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Published March 1, 1954 | public
Journal Article Open

Physiological Aspects of Genetics


A considerable amount of evidence indicates that desoxyribonucleic acid is capable of duplicating itself, a property also possessed by genes. (By a self-duplicating material, we mean one which plays some essential role in its own production.) Watson & Crick (1) have proposed a new structure for desoxyribonucleic acid which not only takes into account the existing analytical and x-ray diffraction data but also seems capable of explaining the mechanism of duplication. Their model consists of two helical chains coiled around the same axis, the purine and pyrimidine bases on the inside, the phosphate groups on the outside. The chains are held together by hydrogen bonds between the bases, the adenine residues of either chain being bonded specifically to thymine in the other, and similarly guanine to cytosine. The sequence of bases along one chain is not restricted, but once fixed the sequence along the other chain is determined. This complementarity, which is the most novel feature of the structure, suggests that duplication takes place by separation of the two chains, followed by the synthesis of its complement alongside each chain. The model is supported by recent x-ray diffraction studies (2, 3).

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"Reprinted, with permission, from the Annual Review of Physiology, Volume 16 copyright 1954 by Annual Reviews, www.annualreviews.org" This review covers the period January 1, 1952 to May 30, 1953.


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