The Carbonic Anhydrases

Overview of Their Importance in Cellular Physiology and in Molecular Genetics
  • Susanna J. Dodgson


Carbonic anhydrase (CA) (EC was first characterized in erythrocytes in 1933 directly as a result of a search by several laboratories for a catalytic factor in the erythrocytes that had been theoretically determined as necessary for rapid transit of the HCO 3 from the erythrocyte to the pulmonary capillary. Two laboratories simultaneously published papers describing a catalytic factor. From Dr. Roughton’s laboratory at Cambridge University came a paper with an elegant title including a name for what they thought was a single enzyme (“Carbonic Anhydrase: Its Preparation and Properties”)61; from Dr. Stadie’s laboratory in Philadelphia came another paper with a less concise title (“The Catalysis of the Hydration of Carbon Dioxide and Dehydration of Carbonic Acid by the Enzyme Isolated from Red Blood Cells”; the other author was Dr. Helen O’Brien).73 Perhaps the more frequent citation of the Cambridge paper is due to the shorter title with scholarly colon as well as the confident naming of this newly discovered enzyme. The adjective “late” before the senior author’s name describes the tragically premature end of N. M. Meldrum’s life by his own hand not long after a crippling accident. Dr. Roughton remained in Cambridge until his death in 1971; he worked with many stellar white male scientists from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (e.g., Sir Joseph Barcroft, Sir Hans Krebs, P E Scholander, Britton Chance, Quentin Gibson, Robert Forster, and J. W. Severinghaus). Dr. Roughton continued his interest in CO2 transport until his death; his life and career have been discussed and his list of publications documented by Dr. Quentin Gibson, a fellow member of the Royal Society and one-time colleague.31 Dr. Stadie continued in the field of metabolism, and by his death in the 1940s he was a noted researcher in diabetes. Dr. O’Brien also left the CA field.


Acute Mountain Sickness Carbonic Anhydrase Activity Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitor Carbonic Anhydrase Isozyme theCA Activity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanna J. Dodgson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of Pennsylvania School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA

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