Sunday, September 19, 2010

Learning the Alphabet

Amino acids are the building blocks of life. Hard to accept that we all are just a bunch of acids. What all amino acids share is our introvert nitrogen (N). It seems that when things were forming billions of years ago, nitrogen was one of the first gases. It seems to have had the advantage of being resistance to radiation. This would certainly give it a leg up on the other chemicals trying to form in a stream of electomagnetic radiation. It would seem that these nitrogen atoms pulled together some hydrogen (H) to form the amine groups NH(3) that ultimately forms the anchor for the amino acids. Each of the twenty amino acids have this introverted nitrogen groups that brings with it all sorts of other atoms, our carbon (C), oxygen (O), hydrogen (H), and sulfur (S) along with it. The earliest forming cells must have seen the advantage of having this nitrogen based group of molecules since the cell ultimately placed them incharge of everything or more likely, they took charge of everything! Now the amino acids that seem to have the most useful shapes and charges end up being "glutamate", "asparagine", and our friend "glycine". Each of these amino acids bring to the table its nitrogen atom and forms special proteins, containing two to five intorverted nitrogens. The special proteins are 1) adenine (A), 2) guanine (G), 3) thymine (T), and 4) cytosine (C). A fifth protein Uracil (U) comes in handy outside the nucles but that story is yet to come. Now each of these proteins carry at least one positive charge, and one negative charge. It is the charges that determines how good a swimmer each molecule is in the pool of salt water! The charge determines the degree of assoication with water. Uncharged parts of an amino acid chain (polypeptide) tend to coalesce, excluding water. The charged portions of the peptide chain remain in the water interface, thus a better swimmer. It is these four speical proteins adenine (A), guanine (G), thymine (T), and cytosine (C) that make up the alphabet of our genetic code.

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