Dan's DNA and the genetic code

How we get around the 6 missing letters...

Those who know the genetic code will realise that only 20 out of the 26 letters in the Roman alphabet are represented in the single-letter amino acid code. This guide tells you how Dan's DNA gets around the 6 missing letters.

So what are the 6 missing letters? If you take a close look at the codon table below you will see that there are no amino acids that have the single-letter codes B, J, O, U, X and Z. But don't worry, even if you have these letters in your name we can still make a customised design for you using a few tricks... 

Here is how Dan's DNA designs deal with the 6 missing letters when creating custom Sangerism designs...

X is easy, along with * it is used to denote stop codons. So for an X we use a stop codon.

Something I only learned recently is that the letter B can be used to denote either aspartic acid or asparagine. Similarly the letter Z can be used to denote either glutamic acid or glutamine. Therefore, for B and Z Dan's DNA designs use 2 codons overlaid on top of each other to look like a heterozygous sequence.

For J and U Dan's DNA designs go back in time. These letters are relatively recent additions to the Roman alphabet and in ancient Roman times these letters did not exist - I was used where we now use J and V was used where we now use U. A good example of this is the name JULIUS CAESAR, during his time it was written IVLIVS CAESAR. So at Dan’s DNA we use I for J and V for U.

That leaves the single letter O – there is no easy way around this one, so at Dan’s DNA we use * to denote a stop codon where an O should be.

All the Sangerism designs use randomly assigned codons to spell out names, words or short phrases according to the genetic code table. Due to the redundancy of the genetic code there are many ways to “spell” the same word in DNA.

The Sangerism below shows all the letters of the Dan's DNA alphabet. Notice the double peaks at the first base position of the codons for B and Z and the base call of N. For B the codons GAT (Asp) and AAT (Asn) are overlaid and for Z the codons GAG (Glu) and CAG (Gln) are overlaid.

This is just one of a countless number ways to write the alphabet using DNA!!

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© 2020 by Daniel Wallace