Nucleic Acids Essay
Nucleic Acids, extremely complex molecules produced by living cells and viruses. Their name comes from their initial isolation from the nuclei of living cells. Certain nucleic acids, however, are found not in the cell nucleus but in cell cytoplasm. Nucleic acids have at least two functions: to pass on hereditary characteristics from one generation to the next, and to trigger the manufacture of specific proteins. How nucleic acids accomplish these functions is the object of some of the most intense and promising research currently under way. The nucleic acids are the fundamental substances of living things, believed by researchers to have first been formed about 3 billion years ago, when the most elementary …show more content…
The pioneering research that revealed the general structure of DNA was performed by the British biophysicists Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins and by the American biochemist James Dewey Watson. Using an X-ray diffraction picture of the DNA molecule obtained by Wilkins in 1951, Crick and Watson were able to construct a model of the DNA molecule that was completed in 1953. For their work, the three scientists received the 1962 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. The American biochemist Arthur Kornberg synthesized DNA from “off-the-shelf” substances, for which he was awarded, with the American biochemist Severo Ochoa (for research on RNA), the 1959 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. The DNA that he synthesized, although structurally similar to natural DNA, was not biologically active. In 1967, however, Kornberg and a team of researchers at Stanford University succeeded in producing biologically active DNA from relatively simple chemicals.
Certain kinds of RNA have a slightly different function from that of DNA. They take part in the actual synthesis of the proteins a cell produces. This is of particular interest to virologists because many viruses reproduce by “forcing” the host cells to manufacture