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January 16, 1960


JAMA. 1960;172(3):244-245. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03020030038010

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PROTEIN molecules are the basic units of the expression of form and function in living matter. Their many varieties—as structural components and as enzymes— determine the uniqueness of species and of individuals within species. Proteins are linear polymers made up of 20 repeating units (amino acids) Although naturally occurring proteins have a complex secondary and tertiary structure it is probable that this coiling and folding is a spontaneous result of the order and kind of amino acids in the primary chain. The over-all arbiter of the protein character of an individual organism is its genetic material—deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Passed down from generation to generation in the germ cells, these giant molecules maintain the genetic integrity of species. DNA molecules are linear polymers made up of four repeating units (nucleotides). An increasingly popular working hypothesis among molecular biologists, sometimes called "The Dogma," is that there may be a simple, determinative relationship

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