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The Symposia, 1933 — 2003

1963:   Synthesis and Structure of Macromolecules, Vol. XXVIII

Organizer: H. Edwin Umbarger

Table of Contents

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Jim Watson had early sketched a small diagram in which he suggested the relationship between DNA, RNA and protein synthesis, although the biochemical mechanisms involved were beyond even speculation. Later, in 1957, Francis Crick wrote of the "Central Dogma", that information passes from DNA to RNA to protein, and that the reverse step-from protein to RNA-was not possible. Crick also suggested that there were what he called "adaptor molecules" that, during protein synthesis, mediated between the chemically very different nucleotides of RNA and the amino acids of proteins.

Through the 1950s, much experimental effort was directed at elucidating the biochemistry that underlay the Central Dogma and by 1961, there were data on each step: Kornberg had found an enzyme that replicated DNA; Zamecnik and Hoagland had found Crick's adaptor molecules (although they were very different biochemically from what he had proposed) and were unraveling the steps of protein synthesis; the RNA intermediate between

DNA and proteins had been identified and named messenger RNA; and the three dimensional structure of proteins had been determined and Perutz had shown, for hemoglobin, the structural changes hemoglobin undergoes when it binds oxygen.

The 1953 Symposium had been notable for the first public presentation of the DNA double helix; the 1963 Symposium was remarkable for the extent to which the main themes derived from the double helix had been defined and pursued in the intervening ten years. Now it was possible to hold a Symposium in which the full sweep of DNA to RNA to Protein could be covered.

Jan A. Witkowski

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