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Genetic Code - The "wobble" Hypothesis

base crick pairing trna

Even before the genetic code had been elucidated, Francis Crick postulated that base pairing of the mRNA codons with the tRNA anticodons would require precision in the first two nucleotide positions but not so in the third position (the precise conformation of base pairs, which refers to the hydrogen bonding between A-T (A-U in RNA) and C-G pairs is known as Watson-Crick base pairing). The third position, in general, would need to be only a purine (A or G) or a pyrimidine (C or U). Crick called this phenomenon "wobble."

This less-than-precise base pairing would require fewer tRNA species. For example, tRNAGlu could pair with either GAA or GAG codons. In looking at the codon table, one can see that, for the most part, the first two letters are important to specify the particular amino acid. The only exceptions are AUG (Met) and UGG (Trp) which, as indicated above, have only one codon each.

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over 2 years ago

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