Letter from Francis Crick to Marshall W. Nirenberg
In this letter from the Cavendish laboratory, Crick shares his ideas on the coding process with Nirenberg, offers to give
a talk at NIH as requested, and insists that Nirenberg's discoveries revealed in the Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences were the "real" breakthroughs in genetic investigation.
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2 (107,955 Bytes)
1962-01-04 (January 4, 1962)
Nirenberg, Marshall W.
Reproduced with permission of Francis Crick.
Synthetic RNA and the Poly-U Experiments, 1959-1962
It was very kind of you to send me your two papers, and I look forward very keenly to your next one. I liked the first paper
very much, but I felt that perhaps Ochoa had rushed you into publishing the second one in rather a hurry. We hear that Leon
and Maxine are helping you pre- pare the polymers. I hope that this is true, and that all is going well. It must be maddening
to have the whole world jumping into one's problem. I must confess that we are doing a little on it ourselves, in collaboration
with Marianne. Our results are broadly the same as everyone else's, except that we get incorporation with poly UC having
a measured U/C ratio of about 0.24. This incorporates a lot of proline, among other things. In our hands poly C doesn't
appear to work, but we think this is because it is double-stranded. However, we haven't pursued this. I should be surprised
if CCC is not proline, as you claimed in your PNAS footnote.
I will certainly give a talk at NIH, but I think it had better be on the genetic work. We can talk about the bio-chemistry
I have to be in Washington for the Biophysics meeting, and expect to be around till at least the evening of 20th February.
Perhaps you could collate your invitation with David Davies, who has suggested I give a general evening lecture. Let me know
what you fix up between you.
The English papers have made rather a fuss about our Nature paper, which was published on Saturday, but as far as I have been
able I have stressed that it is your discovery which was the real break-through.
Looking forward greatly to seeing you in February.