Molecular Medicine Goes Hunting!

Yesterday’s challenge was ‘Say it with DNA’. Students picked small objects and hid them in the Pembroke college grounds for their teammates to find.  But this was no ordinary game of hide and seek!
Playing the part of a cell’s DNA, as well as transcription and translation machinery, they had to tell their teammates which object to hunt by using the genetic code. DNA uses four chemical bases to encode amino acids, the component pieces of proteins. Each amino acid is encoded for by different triplets of those DNA bases.
For example, the DNA base triplet AGA codes for the amino acid Arginine. Teammates translated the genetic code into an intelligible message by using the amino acid code. For instance, the abbreviation of Arginine is ‘R’ and therefore represents the letter ‘R’.
In the same way that things can go wrong inside cells, students had to overcome hurdles of mistranslations (‘is this really supposed to be a ‘V’?!’  ‘This is not a pencil!  It’s a mechanical pencil!’), mislocalization (‘where am I supposed to find this thing?!’), and general random chaos (no name on the message – ‘who is it supposed to go to?!’).
They all really loved it, and there is so much more to come!