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Letter: Khorana's Achievement

In describing the "Origins of DNA Synthesis" (The Scientist, March 19, 1990, page 30), Carole F. Gan writes: "In 1968, Har Goribind [sic] Khorana and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, were the first to succeed in chemically synthesizing a polynucleotide, the transfer RNA (tRNA) for alanine. Although this was indeed a historic achievement - one that won Khorana the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine - there were no known biological applications for the technique at the

Janardan Pandey

In describing the "Origins of DNA Synthesis" (The Scientist, March 19, 1990, page 30), Carole F. Gan writes: "In 1968, Har Goribind [sic] Khorana and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, were the first to succeed in chemically synthesizing a polynucleotide, the transfer RNA (tRNA) for alanine. Although this was indeed a historic achievement - one that won Khorana the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine - there were no known biological applications for the technique at the time."

I would like to correct two items in this description. First, Har Gobind Khorana synthesized the DNA coding for the alanine tRNA. Second, although, as Gan states, this was a historic achievement, this is not the accomplishment for which Khorana was awarded the Nobel Prize. He received the Nobel Prize for his work on the genetic code before he synthesized the gene for alanine tRNA.

JANARDAN P....

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