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C-A-K-E spells DNA cake

by Eva Amsen

It was my turn to bring cake for cake club at work. Your turn only comes around once a year or so, so I thought I’d make something interesting. Inspired by Jonathan’s DNA cake, and by the four colours in use for the four products at our company, I designed a cake with a repeating DNA sequence, that, when translated, becomes a short peptide with the amino acids Cysteine – Alanine – Lysine – Glutamic Acid. Or, in their one-letter codes, C-A-K-E.

There are multiple possible DNA sequences that all spell out C-A-K-E, because the code is degenerate, but I went with this one:


I picked a colour for each base, and started drawing coloured bars underneath the corresponding letters.

Then I figured out how many helix turns would fit on the cake, and how many base pairs would fit in a turn, and when it was time to ice the cake, I recreated my sketch in icing.


Eagle-eyed geneticists will have spotted that I made a mistake, but I didn’t notice this until it was pointed out to me on Twitter after it had already been tweeted and retweeted to at least ten thousand people!

Screen shot 2013-06-09 at 11.42.46

Argh! *headdesk*

I can’t believe I forgot to consider the turns… After I figured out how many base pairs fit in a turn, I should have alternated every other turn so that the sequence stayed on the same strand.

So my DNA cake didn’t pass rigorous scientific peer review, but it tasted good anyway.



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Ten June 9, 2013 - 9:46 PM

Not to rub it in, but the DNA is also coiling round the wrong way… Cake looks delicious though! 🙂

Eva June 10, 2013 - 1:59 PM

D’oh. I’m not as miffed about that, though, because I have left-right confusion, and simply can’t remember which way it’s supposed to go in the first place. But the strand switching I *should* have noticed…

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