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I know what a reverse transcriptase is but I'm not sure why it is suggesting that the central dogma may be wrong -- RNA first then DNA instead of the well-known sequence of DNA -> RNA -> protein


marked as duplicate by Remi.b, David, AliceD, kmm, James Sep 14 '16 at 4:13

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Go to wikipedia and look reverse transcriptase. All your questions will be answered. But to answer your question, reverse transcriptase is an enzyme that uses RNA molecules as a template to make a DNA version of said RNA. ie the flow of information from DNA to RNA is reversed.

The central dogma... is a terrible name. It was an idea state in the 1950s that information flows one way from DNA to RNA to protein. The use of the word dogma is an ill choice to use. Because science does learn new things. And given that DNA was only just discovered in the 1950s....ie the same decade... the word dogma is a bad idea. SHould have waited a few more decades first

Anyhow... the discovery of reverse transcriptase allow information to flow back from RNA to DNA. The discovery of siRNA.. mean RNA can control DNA. The discovery of prions... lead to current work now where pre-existing proteins can be templates for the folding of newly synthesised protein. DNA methylation allows epigenetic inheritance. Ie changes of certain protein levels (say during starvation) in your body can leave inheritable marks on your DNA (which will then affect the behavior of those gene in your children).

The central dogma now (if it still is used) has a lot more lines leading up and down the chain.


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  • $\begingroup$ You should probably read about the central dogma. Besides its poor naming, all that Crick said (and where he is still right) that no information goes back from the level of protein. Besides that, especially the existence of the reverse transcriptase proves its validity. When you take the wider formulation of it: DNA makes RNA (mRNA) to make proteins, then you see this. You prepare cDNA first, which is then transcribed and translated into proteins. Fits. $\endgroup$ – Chris Sep 12 '16 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ I still find the central dogma to be a useful starting place for introductory bio classes. As we go along additional elements are added to build up a more representative model. As a model, I equate it with bohr's atom cartoon- a good place to start. $\endgroup$ – johntreml Sep 12 '16 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ Chris.... there are such things as RNA dependent RNA polymerases... where information from RNA is copies directly into another RNA molecule with no DNA intermediate. DNA can also be methylated by protein activity.. .changing the expression of the genes or the splice variants that the gene produces... and such changes are inheritable. $\endgroup$ – JayCkat Sep 12 '16 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ [biologydirect.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1745-6150-7-27/… This archived comment is informative. $\endgroup$ – grandesoylatte Sep 25 '16 at 22:35

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