The History of Cell Biology---Actin

matveev at matveev at
Thu May 8 08:15:39 EST 2003

Too many people forget now about what has been known in the scientific literature. Too many scientist try posing as INDEPENDENT researchers and don't want find an evident, often, their predecessors. When studying of scientific history will be financed enough, probably, we'll be forced to rewrite it anew. 

I create a web-page about a history of cell biology for International Federation for Cell Biology and would like to use this message board to enhance some of my descriptions. I ask everybody, including librarians, to help me to the best of one's ability.  

Searching Internet I quickly understood that web-sites often write off each other. There many contradictions in descriptions of the same facts or events. I would like to try solve at least small part of them. But even small historical problems need in collective participation of all who keeps at least a piece of truth. I am not so free with English and therefore I can not replay to every massage. I ask my future kind helpers are close to facts, documents and so on. But interesting reflections are welcomed too. Thank you all in advance. 

The topic # 1. Actin history.

It is commonly accepted that actin was discovered by (Straub, 1942). Straub, who was working in Szent-Gyorgyi's laboratory extracted myosin A (now know as myosin) from fresh muscle and from the residue left over he isolated a new protein. This new protein when added to myosin A formed a highly viscous solution, similarly to what was known for myosin B (now known as actomyosin). Thus, Straub provided evidence that his new protein activated myosin A and therefore, called it actin.   

But in 46 years Finck (1968) found Halliburton's paper of 1887. In this study protein was isolated form muscle and named 'myosin-ferment' which 'coagulated' myosin A quickly, i.e. strongly interacted with myosin A. 

The question arose: who is discoverer of actin in fact, Strub or Halliburton? 

I would be grateful to everyone who will help me to answer this question.

Dr. Vladimir Matveev

* Straub FB, 1942. Actin. In: Studies from the Institute of Medical Chemistry University Szeged, vol. II  (Szent-Gyorgyi, A. ed.) pp. 3-15, S. Krager, Basel-New-York: S. Krager. 
* Fink H, 1968. On the discovery of actin. Science 160: 332. (Full text:
* Halliburton WD. 1887. On muscle plasma. J. Physiol. 8: 133.

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