The history of biocatalysis

1835 The Swede Jöns Jacob Berzelius describes a catalyst as a substance which can breathe life into slumbering chemical reactions.
1868 Friedrich Miescher, Switzerland isolates nucleic acids from white blood cells obtained from discarded bandages.
1877 Wilhelm Kuhne, Germany introduces the term “enzyme” and distinguishes between enzymes and bacteria.
1893 Wilhelm Ostwald, Latvia classifies enzymes as catalysts.
1926 James Sumner, USA (Nobel Prize 1946) crystallizes the enzyme urease and demonstrates that it is a protein.
1940 Torbjörn Caspersson, Sweden and Jean Brachet, Belgium predict that ribonucleic acids (RNA) are required in order for the cell to make proteins.
1940 George Beadle* and Edward Tatum*, USA advance the hypothesis “one gene – one enzyme”. * Nobel Prize 1958.
1944 Oswald Avery and coworkers in the United States demonstrate that the genetic material is composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
1953 James Watson*, USA and Francis Crick*, England demonstrate that the DNA molecule is composed of a double helix. * Nobel Prize 1962.
1960 Francis Crick and Sydney Brenner, England and François Jacob* and Jaques Monod*, France propose how RNA is used in order for cells to make proteins using information from DNA. * Nobel Prize 1965.
1961-65 Work in the United States by Marshall Nirenberg*, Johann Matthaei, Gobind Khorana*, Severo Ochoa (Nobel Prize 1959) and their coworkers leads the way to the deciphering of the genetic code. * Nobel Prize 1968.
1977 It is demonstrated in several laboratories that RNA molecules must often be cut and rejoined before they can be used, e.g., to make proteins.
1982 Thomas Cech (Nobel Prize 1989) discovers that an RNA molecule can cut itself and rejoin the loose ends without the presence of an enzyme protein.
1983 Sidney Altman (Nobel Prize 1989) shows that an RNA molecule can possess all the properties of an enzyme.

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