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Sidney Altman

( Chemist, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1989)

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Biography Sidney Altman
Altman, SYDNEY (Altman, Sidney) (p. 1939) (USA). Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1989 (jointly with T. Check).
Born in Montreal in 1939, the second son in a family of poor immigranov. His mother worked in a textile factory, father - in the grocery store. Sidney, in the first generation children of immigrants born in Canada, it was clear that the path to success is through education.

Two major events have caused him the appearance of an early interest in science: the creation of the atomic bomb and reading books about the periodic table of chemical elements.

After high school, Altman began to study physics at MIT, and, of course, he wanted to become a specialist in nuclear physics. Lee Grodzins was the head of his thesis in this area.

In the last semester of Sidney listened to a short course in molecular biology, which prepared him for further contact with this discipline. After a futile search for scientific work at Columbia University and then in Colorado Altman met with renowned physicist George Gamow origin of Russia (1904-1968), who first made the calculation of the genetic code. Physicist introduced him to Leonard Lehrmann, zanimavshimusya in the Medical Center of the University of Colorado intercalation (embedding) acridine molecules in DNA. It held its dedication to the biochemists.

After work on the effect of acridine on the replication of T4 bacteriophage DNA, he began to work in the laboratory of Harvard University, studying DNA endonuclease, which is involved in the process of replication and recombination of T4 DNA

. Two years later he became a member of the group, . headed by S. Brenner (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, . 2002) and Crick (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, . 1962) in the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (UK),
. This place seemed Oltmenu scientific paradise. Here he began work that led him to the discovery of the enzyme ribonuclease P and the enzymatic capacity of RNA subunit of this enzyme.

Established central dogma of molecular biology is the relationship: DNA R R RNA enzyme. Earlier it was thought that both DNA and RNA, only carriers of genetic information, while proteins in the form of enzymes catalyze the chemical processes of life. Altman and independently by T. Check steel nisprovergatelyami this dogma, and first reported the check in 1982, a year later, Altman confirmed his observation.

In 1970-1980-X Altman and T. Check studied how the genetic code is transferred from DNA to RNA. They were aware that part of the genetic information is not mandatory and she must get rid of RNA molecule, before she starts using cell. In seeking a solution to this problem and Altman check discovered that the enzymatic function takes no protein, and catalytic RNA.

Altman studied the enzyme ribonuclease P, which is found, for example, in the gastric bacteria. Ribonuclease P activates a certain type of RNA molecules, called the transport RNA (tRNA), removing from it a certain part, which is not required for the performance of its functions. This enzyme has unexpected properties that are due not only to the protein molecule, but also characteristic of RNA. I was surprised Altman found that the RNA molecule is acted as a biocatalyst. Catalytic RNA can create a new RNA.

Works Altman and Checa showed that the catalytic activity of RNA molecules depends on the sensitivity of their three-dimensional structure, as is the case of protein enzymes.

Opening of the catalytic RNA, which is also called ribozyme, it is important for both science and in the production.

Catalytic RNA, possibly responsible not only for cutting and the reunification of RNA, but also plays a major role in many biological processes. The chemical processes of life often require intimate interaction of protein - RNA. Perhaps, RNA and protein enzymes are not playing a leading role.

Catalytic RNA - a new powerful tool for genetic engineering. There is a clear use of catalytic RNA in biotechnology and medicine. For example, plants, prepared by genetic engineering, can be resistant to viruses, if you create a ribozyme, which will break and destroy the genetic material of the virus. The same seems quite clear and in the design of drugs against viral infections.

Finally, a new approach to the interpretation of the problem of the chemical mechanism of origin of life on Earth. What biomolecules appeared on earth first? As a whole can be life, . if the DNA molecule of genetic material may be reproduced only with the help of protein enzymes, . while the proteins themselves can be built only with the help of genetic information, . done in the DNA?,

. Opening of Altman and Checa shown that this molecule could not be a protein molecule, and not a DNA molecule
. RNA molecule meets the required parameters - it can simultaneously serve as a genetic material, and possess the properties of the enzyme.

After the opening of a first radiochemically purified precursor tRNA molecule Altman received in 1971 as assistant professor at Yale University. Later career at Yale developed in the standard way with the passage of all stages, while in 1980, Altman did not become a professor, and from 1983 to 1985 headed the Department of. In 1985, for four years, he became dean of Yale College, July 1, 1989 but returned to the post of Professor.

In 1989 Oltmenu and S. Ceku was awarded the Nobel Prize 'for his discovery of catalytic properties of RNA. "

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