Michael Bölker

The language of the genes

Even before the discovery of the double helix nature of DNA the gene has been compared to a code-script. The complementary base pairing of nucleobases offered an intuitive explanation for a molecular mechanism of reduplication. The central dogma of information flowing in one direction from DNA to protein formulated by Francis Crick finally fixed the metaphorical use of „text“, „bluescript“, „book of life“ etc to describe the genetic function of DNA. This concept has been proven useful inasmuch as it allowed the understanding of many biological processes related to heredity such as proofreading, imprinting, editing by applying the textual concept. Nevertheless implies the literally comparison of DNA to text some misconceptions such as predeterminism and the idea of the genes as agents that act on their own will.


The speaker

Michael Bölker has studied biochemistry in Tübingen and Berlin. He than moved to Munich where he worked on the dimorphic fungus Ustilago maydis. In 1997 he became professor for genetics at the University of Marburg. He is member of the LOEWE-Center for Synthetic Microbiology and has recently discovered that translational readthrough of stop codons serves as mechanism to target cytosolic protein partially to peroxisomes both in fungi and in humans.