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Genetic Linkage

Seventy Years Since Watson and Crick’s Paper Introduced DNA: A Brief History of the Molecule of Life

On April 25, 1953, "MOLECULAR STRUCTURE OF NUCLEIC ACIDS: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid" was published in Nature. J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick's work was a brilliant deduction based on the experimental findings of many others.


DNA is a sleek double helix, with "rungs" consisting of a purine base paired with a smaller pyrimidine base: adenine (A) with thymine (T) and guanine (G) with cytosine (C). Hydrogen bonds link the pairs, individually weak but in large numbers powerfully strong, like a zipper.


"It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material," Watson and Crick wrote near the end of the one-page article, planting the seeds for modern biotechnologies like recombinant DNA, transgenic organisms, gene silencing and therapy, and CRISPR gene editing.


The April 1953 paper was groundbreaking yet a bit of a tease, a "save-the-date" of sorts to announce the discovery and briefly describe the structure, for much confirming work needed to be done. Six months later, Francis Crick eloquently laid out the clues in "Structure of the Hereditary Material," in a Scientific American volume, "Genetics": "A genetic material must carry out two jobs: duplicate itself and control the development of the rest of the cell in a specific way." DNA encodes amino acid sequences comprising proteins, which impart traits.


On this anniversary of the famous paper, DNA Science revisits the discoveries that catalyzed Watson and Crick's deduction of how a molecule could carry and transmit genetic information.


To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared.

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Genetics Pioneer James Watson Stripped of Final Honorary Titles over Race Views

James Watson is best known for co-discovering DNA’s 3D structure and for helming the Human Genome Project at the beginning. But he’s also been known more recently for his racist statements. In the latest chapter of the dark side of Dr. Watson, Cold Spring Harbor laboratory issued a statement on January 11 condemning recent comments that he made January 2 on the PBS series “American Masters: Decoding Watson.”

The move effectively removes the final honorary positions held by Dr. Watson at the lab he once helmed.

According to the statement by Cold Spring Harbor lab:

Dr. Watson’s statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students. The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice.

To continue reading go to Genetic Literacy Project, where this article first appeared. Read More 

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Why I Don't Want to Know My Genome Sequence

Even after writing 10 editions of a human genetics textbook, I don't want to know my genome sequence. Yet.
Famous folk have been writing about their genome sequences for a few years now. But when I received two such reports at once last week – about genetics researcher Ron Crystal, MD, and a hypothetical (I think) story about President Obama, I knew it was time to take action.

Or, in my case, inaction. Read More 
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Personal Genome Sequencing: Too Much Information?

October 11-15, 6,200 researchers and clinicians met in Montreal for the 12th International Congress of Human Genetics. After my brain recovered from the long days of meetings, one panel discussion emerged as my favorite: what I thought was going to be a dull comparison of DNA sequencing technologies turned out to be a spirited look at  Read More 
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Jim Watson at International Congress of Human Genetics

Montreal, Oct. 11, 2011 -- James Watson joined a panel of “genome pioneers” at the opening session of the 12th International Congress of Human Genetics today. He was invited, besides his fame, because he was the second person to have his genome sequenced (Craig Venter was first), but his comments revealed that perhaps his most telling qualification is that he has a son who has schizophrenia. Known for his controversial views, Dr. Watson did not disappoint.  Read More 
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