Ochoa made the discovery for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1955,
while conducting research on high-energy phosphates. He named the enzyme
he discovered polynucleotide phosphorylase. It was subsequently determined
that the enzyme's function is to degrade RNA, not synthesize it; under
test-tube conditions, however, it runs its natural reaction in reverse.
The enzyme has been singularly valuable in enabling scientists to understand
and re-create the process whereby the hereditary information contained
in genes is translated, through RNA intermediaries, into enzymes that
determine the functions and character of each cell.
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