In the 1960s Khorana confirmed Nirenberg's findings that the way the
four different types of nucleotides are arranged on the spiral "staircase"
of the DNA molecule determines the chemical composition and function
of a new cell. The 64 possible combinations of the nucleotides are read
off along a strand of DNA as required to produce the desired amino acids,
which are the building blocks of proteins. Khorana added details about
which serial combinations of nucleotides form which specific amino acids.
He also proved that the nucleotide code is always transmitted to the
cell in groups of three, called codons. Khorana also determined that
some of the codons prompt the cell to start or stop the manufacture
of proteins. Khorana made another contribution to genetics in 1970,
when he and his research team were able to synthesize the first artificial
copy of a yeast gene.
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