Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952415 | Print ISBN: 9780761926498 | Online ISBN: 9781412952415| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Although the discovery of DNA dates back to 1869 with Frederich Miescher's study of a phosphorus-containing substance isolated from the nuclei of cells found in discarded bandages of wounded soldiers, it was not until 1953 that Watson and Crick published its molecular structure. Many studies since then have established that DNA is the material responsible, in part, for the inheritance of virtually all of our traits. Exceptions to this rule include one's fingerprint (ridge) pattern, which is established during the third to fourth month of fetal development. The discovery that DNA is actually an antiparallel double helix helped to explain why this unique molecule, with the assistance of “helper” molecules, is able to replicate within the cell. Molecular biologists and biochemists continue to study DNA to better our understanding of the processes of transcription (transfer of information from DNA to RNA) and translation (the use of RNA in the synthesis ...