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Chargaff, Erwin

bases dna nucleic guanine

[ chah® gaf] (1905– ) Czech–US biochemist: discovered base-pairing rules in DNA.

Chargaff studied at Vienna, Yale, Berlin and Paris, and worked in the USA from 1935 at Columbia University, New York. His best-known work is on nucleic acids. By 1950 he had shown that a single organism contains many different kinds of RNA but that its DNA is of essentially one kind, characteristic of the species and even of the organism. The nucleic acids contain nitrogenous bases of four types: adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine. Chargaff showed that the quantities of the bases are not equal, as some had thought, but that, if we represent the number of the respective bases in a DNA by A, T, G and C respectively, then (very nearly) A = T, and C = G. These Chargaff rules were of great value as a clue to the double helix structure for DNA put forward by in 1953, in which the two helical nucleic acid strands are linked by bonds between complimentary bases, adenine linking with thymine and cytosine linking with guanine, by hydrogen bonds.

Chargaff’s relations with Watson and Crick were marked by mutual antipathy.

Charlap, Bill [next] [back] Chappell Co.

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