Letter from Paul Berg, Stanford University Medical Center to Marshall W. Nirenberg
Berg acknowledges that Nirenberg is no longer doing work on the genetic code and proceeds to explain to Nirenberg the genetic
research he is engaged in and the nature of their discoveries. Admitting that he is not a skilled chemist, he asks Nirenberg
for two triplets--UAG and CAG--so that they can complete their work.
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1969-04-15 (April 15, 1969)
Stanford University Medical Center
Nirenberg, Marshall W.
Reproduced with permission of Paul Berg.
Translating the Code of Life and the Nobel Prize, 1962-1968
I know that you are no longer doing work on the Genetic Code, but I would like to get a favor from you if it is possible.
We are in the midst of trying to identify a new suppressor of UAG which we have isolated. We are almost sure that it inserts
glutamine, but in contrast to the usual su2 suppressor, this mutation is lethal for the organism. We can carry the mutation
in diploids and therefore have been able to study the mechanism of its suppression. In trying to extend this work to in vitro
suppression, we have used the f2 sus3 mutant and looking for tRNA-dependent suppression in vitro. We would also like, if
we can, to show the suppression by triplet binding, but we are not such good chemists that we can quickly make appropriate
triplets. I wonder, therefore, if I can prevail upon you to get some. What we would like to have is some UAG and CAG. We
would like to be able to fractionate the suppressor species and monitor that fractionation by the coding response. If you
could let us have some of each of the two triplets, it would very much help our effort.