Duplex Quiz

Martin E. Mulligan mulligan at kean.ucs.mun.ca
Wed Jun 16 20:04:05 EST 1993

In article <1993Jun13.171218.10164 at gserv1.dl.ac.uk>, GBCA26 at VMS3.GLA.AC.UK ("David Leader : Glasgow University Biochemistry writes:
> As co-author of a text book on nucleic acids, I received the following 
> enquiry from a reader in Italy:
> 	Who first suggested the term "DNA duplex"  ?
> I suppose the average molecular biologist around today wan't born when the 
> term was coined, but although I was - oh those grey hairs - I don't know 
> the answer. Anybody out there does?
> David Leader,
> University of Glasgow.

A check of my copy of "The Genetics of Bacteria and their Viruses" bu
William Hayes (2nd edition - 1968) showed that Hayes uses the term
'duplex' in describing DNA.  In Chapter 11, he talks about 'the long axis
of the duplex' and in describing the Meselson-Stahl experiment he
talks about 'The parental DNA duplex','the parental duplex', and even
'the daughter and grand-daughter duplexes'.

Our library does not have the first edition of this book but it did
have "Microbial Genetics: Tenth Symposium of the Society for General
Microbiology"  held in London, April 1960.  In an article by Hayes
on "The Bacterial Chromosome" he uses the term 'duplex' but I did
not look long and hard enough to see if the term 'DNA duplex' was used.  
Here are two quotes:

"This mode of replication is called semi-conservative since each 
daughter duplex consists of one chain conserved from the original 
duplex and one newly-synthesized chain."

"The only possible irregularity in the Watson-Crick model of DNA 
which could serve as a chemical code is the sequence of the four bases 
along one of the polynucleotide chains of the duplex."

Martin E. Mulligan
Dept. of Biochemistry
Memorial University of Newfoundland

More information about the Bioforum mailing list