By Henry Lau 劉以軒
Instruction manuals tell people what to do. Similarly, DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) directs the various actions of a cell. To perform this function properly, DNA stores information which can be decoded into instruction on how to use amino acids to produce proteins.
The decoding process is simpler than you might imagine! You see, DNA is made of four nucleotides: A, T, C and G, and a series of three nucleotides form a unit of information called codons. In turn, each codon codes for one amino acid, which can be represented by a single letter. For example, “gat aac gcg” can be translated into “D N A”.
Can you apply this principle to solve the puzzle below?
(Assume that tag = B, tga = O, taa = U)
(1) gataacgcg is the (2) tagttgtaagaaccccgcatcaacaca of life. Simply put, DNA stores information that directs the synthesis of (3) ccgcgctgaaccgaaattaacagc. The entire process can be divided into two actions: (4) acccgcgcgaacagctgccgcattccgaccatttgaaac and translation. In the former action, information in DNA is copied into an intermediate called messenger (5) cgcaacgcg. The intermediate is then translated into a chain of (6) gcgatgattaactga acids.