Until fairly recently, experts believed that one three-letter code was assigned to each of the 20 amino acids contained in the genetic code. However, a recent study has discovered that there is more than one sequence that some organisms can recognize for a rare amino acid called selenocysteine. Thus, the implications of these findings could mean that the seemingly simple genetic code is much more complex than was previously thought. So what is the genetic code, and what does this mean for the future of amino acid studies? Read on to learn more.
Understanding the Genetic Code
The genetic code is the language that your body uses to synthesize proteins from amino acids and carry out a variety of related functions. These “codes” are comprised of nucleotide triplets (represented by letters) which sequentially combine to form a specific amino acid. Within the genetic code, there are 20 basic amino acids, which can be combined to form a number of other amino acids, peptides, and proteins. For example, the genetic code for the amino acid alanine is written as GCU, whereas the code for cysteine is UGU. In addition, certain codons are typically placed at the end of a sequence to signalize the end of a particular chain of amino acids. Selenocysteine is a rare amino acid responsible for regulating the homeostasis of selenium within the body. New research has shown evidence that there may be multiple three-letter codes, rather than just one for the synthesis of this amino acid .
The Implications of New Codon for Selenocysteine
The research was carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute. They found that some microorganisms can read the codon UGA in two ways. UGA is typically used to signal the end of an amino acid chain, but these microbes read it as a signal to produce selenocysteine instead . While this might seem like a small difference, the implications of this new information could be huge, suggesting that cells interact with and interpret the genetic code in far more complex ways than researchers once thought. If the UGA codon can be interpreted as both selenocysteine and a stopping point, it is very possible that the ways in which we currently study and understand the genetic code may only be the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. These findings open up the possibility that there are many more codons and possibly more amino acids that are “written” into our DNA that we have yet to discover.
The Best Approach to Amino Acid Skin Care
Amino acids are paramount to the health and beauty of your skin, not to mention the overall health and function of your entire body. This is why it’s so important that we eat a balanced diet full of complete proteins or a variety of different proteins in order to obtain all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own. In addition, a growing body of research has demonstrated that applying amino acids directly to the skin can have a number of amazing benefits, including promoting healthy hydration, aiding in barrier repair and wound healing, providing free radical protection, and diminishing the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging . That said, the most effective amino acid skincare products will contain all or nearly all of the 20 amino acids contained in the genetic code. This is because while each amino acid has distinct qualities, functions, and benefits on its own, amino acids need to be combined in various sequences in order to carry out most of their beneficial functions. For example, collagen, which is one of the main proteins in your skin, is comprised of the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine . Thus, including only arginine in your amino acid skincare products, for instance, won’t be nearly as effective as including all 20 of the amino acids. They can be combined in multiple ways to create proteins and carry out important functions throughout your skin.
The Bottom Line
Although there is plenty of current research on the benefits of and uses for amino acids within the human body, experts are still far from knowing everything there is to know about these amazing molecules. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on the latest news and research regarding amino acids in skincare, sign up to become an AminoGenesis Insider. We’ll also send you exclusive deals and offers on AminoGenesis products, which have been expertly formulated to maximize the skin-nourishing power of topical amino acids.