Nature’s Best Kept Secret

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Nature’s Best Kept Secret
Quentin Cooper hears about nature's best kept secret - the factory of life. It is well known that genes written in DNA are the code of life, carrying information from generation to generation. But without a code-reading machine, our DNA would be useless.

Quentin learns about the biological machine that does just that in every cell in our bodies, indeed in every cell in every living organism - a machine called the ribosome. This single, extraordinarily adaptable device manufactures every protein in our body, constantly working to keep our metabolism and life processes going. When we take antibiotics, it is usually to block the ribosomes in infectious bacteria. Tiny variations mean that those in our cells can keep going.

Because the ribosome is built out of DNA's simpler cousin RNA, this biological constructor provides the strongest clue that life developed out of a primordial soup of simple reacting RNA molecules.

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30 minutes

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Thu 12 Mar 2009 16:30

Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

Adam Rutherford explores the research that is transforming our world.