“We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest.”– Watson and Crick
Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid
Nature 171, 737-738, April 25, 1953
International DNA day is being celebrated today, the 60th anniversary of the publication of Watson and Crick’s paper describing the elegantly simple, three-dimensional double helical structure of DNA. Described as perhaps one of the greatest understatements in biology, the groundbreaking nature of the paper is hidden in the last sentence: “It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.”
The story of the discovery of DNA itself and how genetic instructions are stored inside organisms and transferred from generation to generation has been made famous by James Watson in his book, The Double Helix.
The deduction of the double helix can in fact be traced back to work from the late 1860s by Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher who discovered DNA. Scientists such as Phoebus Levene and Erwin Chargaff later on elucidated additional details of the structure of DNA. Chargaff’s realization that A = T and C = G, together with crucial X-ray crystallography work by Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and her PhD student Raymond Gosling, along with the introduction of DNA modelling by Linus Pauling, helped to build the final model of DNA proposed by Watson and Crick. Some 60 years later, using electron-microscopy, researchers are now able to directly image for the first time the Watson-Crick double helix in all its glory.
Francis Crick, James Watson, Maurice Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.
The historical significance of this event and its impact on diverse fields of science has been tremendous: “A remarkable scientific feat of the past century, the discovery of the DNA double helix, set in motion advances that reshaped the biomedical, physical, social, and behavioral sciences more powerfully than any other event in history.” GEN 1 April 2013
Today also marks the 10th anniversary of the announcement of the completion of the Human Genome Project. The elucidation of genetic structure paved the way to sequencing the ~3.2 billion nucleotide bases of the human genome, and helped further our understanding of the importance of DNA to life and health.
To mark today’s special anniversary, this week we highlight significant milestones in DNA research and provide special offers from Bioline: The PCR Company.
Celebrate the 60th anniversary of Watson and Crick’s pioneering discovery and save with our DNA60 special offers!