Monday, May 4, 2009

Help! Is there a biochemist in the house?

After years and years of thinking I did, it turns out that I don't understand DNA. The bases in DNA come in pairs, A with T, C with G. So on one helix you might have AAGCGCTTAGC and this would be matched by TTCGCAATCG. Fine. Happy with that.
Then, I'm told, the DNA is used to make RNA. OK. Which helix? If I use my AAGCGCTTAGC bit I will get a totally different RNA to my TTCGCAATCG bit. I'm also a bit worried because making RNA looks like the DNA has to uncoil. I've tried doing this on models. It doesn't work. You try it with two pieces of wire braided together. It knots up.
Then there's mitochondrial DNA. This is in a circle. No chance of unwinding there. So how does it make RNA? Does it make RNA? How does it make enzymes?
If there are any biochemists out there reading this, I would appreciate an hour of your time. Coffee would be involved.
And perhaps a cheese scone.

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