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The Chemical Structure of DNA
Today’s post crosses over into the realm of biochemistry, with a look at the chemical structure of DNA, and its role in creating proteins in our cells. Of course, it’s not just in humans that DNA is found – it’s present in the cells of every multicellular life form on Earth. This graphic provides an overview of its common structure across these life forms, and a brief explanation of how it allows proteins to be generated.
DNA is found in the nucleus of cells in multicellular organisms, and was first isolated in 1869, by the Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher. However, its structure was not elucidated until almost a century later, in 1953. The authors of the paper in which this structure was suggested, James Watson & Francis Crick, are now household names, and won a Nobel prize for their work. This work, however, was heavily reliant on the work of another scientist, Rosalind Franklin.
Franklin herself was also investigating the structure of DNA, and it was her X-ray photograph, clearly showing the double helix structure of DNA, that greatly aided their work. She had yet to publish her findings when Watson and Crick obtained access to them, without her knowledge. However, her failure to win a Nobel prize is not an oversight, but merely a consequence of the committee’s policy that Nobel prizes cannot be awarded posthumously.