The study of nucleic acids began in 1869 with the isolation of a hitherto unknown phosphate-rich substance from the nuclei of white blood cells. The discovery was made by Friedrich Miescher, a young Swiss studying with the great German biochemist Ernst Hoppe-Seyler. Miescher called the isolated substance nuclein. Subsequently, nuclein was shown to be acidic in nature, and its name was changed to nucleic acid. Soon it became apparent that there were two types of nucleic acids, now called ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). In the early days of nucleic acid research, investigators frequently isolated RNA from yeast and DNA from the thymus gland. Hence, RNA and DNA are referred to in the older literature as yeast nucleic acid and thymus nucleic acid, respectively.
KeywordsNucleic Acid Protein Coat Phosphate Group Mole Percent Double Helix
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