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Har Gobind Khorana


Har Gobind Khorana (born January 9, 1922) is a molecular biologist.

Khorana was born in Raipur (at that time India, now Pakistan). In 1945, he began studies at the University of Liverpool. After earning a Ph. D., he spend a postdoc year in Zrich (1948-49). He then returned to England and worked at Cambridge until 1952. He married Esther Elizabeth Sibler the same year. After that, he worked at universities in Vancouver and Wisconsin.

Khorana was awarded the 1968 Nobel Prize in Medicine (together with Robert W. Holley and Marshall W. Nirenberg) for describing the genetic code and how it operates in protein synthesis.

Khorana's synthetic RNA approach

RNAs with two repeating units (UCUCUCU → UCU CUC UCU) produced two alternating amino acids. This combined with the Nirenberg and Leder experiment showed that UCU codes for Ser and CUC for Leu.

RNAs with three repeating units (UACUACUA → UAC UAC UAC, or ACU ACU ACU, or CUA, CUA, CUA) produced three different strings of amino acids.

RNAs with four repeating units including UAG, UAA, or UGA, produced only dipiptides and tripeptides thus revealing that UAG, UAA and UGA are stop codons.

With this Dr.khorana and his team had established that the mother of all codes, the biological language common to all living organisms, is spelled out in three-letter words:each set of three nucleotides codes for a specific amino acid, in their Nobel lecture delivered on December 12,1968. Dr.Khorana was also the first to synthesize oligonucleotides , that is, strings of nucleotides. These custom designed pieces of artificial genes are widely used in biology labs for sequencing, cloning and engineering new plants and animals.Dr.khorana's invention of oligonucleotides has become indispensable tools in biotechnology. This invention of DrKhorana has become mechanized and commercialize that anyone now can order the synthetic genes just he needs to fax the genetic sequence.


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