- Phoebus Levene
Phoebus Aaron Theodore Levene, M.D. (25 February 1869 – 6 September 1940) was a Russian-American biochemist who studied the structure and function of nucleic acids. He characterized the different forms of nucleic acid, DNA from RNA, and found that DNA contained adenine, guanine, thymine, cytosine, deoxyribose, and a phosphate group.
He was born into a Jewish family as Fishel Aaronovich Levin in the town of Sagor in Russian Lithuania but grew up in St. Petersburg. There he studied medicine at the Imperial Military Medical Academy (M.D., 1891) and developed an interest in biochemistry. In 1893, because of anti-Semitic pogroms, he and his family emigrated to the United States and he practiced medicine in New York.
Levene enrolled at Columbia University and in his spare time conducted biochemical research, publishing papers on the chemical structure of sugars. In 1896 he was appointed as an Associate in the Pathological Institute of the New York State Hospitals, but he had to take time off to recuperate from tuberculosis. During this period, he worked with several chemists, including Albrecht Kossel and Emil Fischer, who were the experts in proteins.
In 1905, Levene was appointed as head of the biochemical laboratory at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research. He spent the rest of his career at this institute, and it was there that he identified the components of DNA. (He had discovered ribose in 1909 and deoxyribose in 1929.) Not only did Levene identify the components of DNA, he also showed that the components were linked together in the order phosphate-sugar-base to form units. He called each of these units a nucleotide, and stated that the DNA molecule consisted of a string of nucleotide units linked together through the phosphate groups, which are the 'backbone' of the molecule. His ideas about the structure of DNA were wrong; he thought there were only four nucleotides per molecule. He even declared that it could not store the genetic code because it was chemically far too simple. However, his work was a key basis for the later work that determined the structure of DNA. Levene published over 700 original papers and articles on biochemical structures. Levene died in 1940, before the true significance of DNA became clear.
Levene is known for his "tetranucleotide hypothesis" (formulated around 1910) which first proposed that DNA was made up of equal amounts of adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. Before the later work of Erwin Chargaff, it was widely thought that DNA was organized into repeating "tetranucleotides" in a way that could not carry genetic information. Instead, the protein component of chromosomes was thought to be the basis of heredity; most research on the physical nature of the gene focused on proteins, and particularly enzymes and viruses, before the 1940s.
- Tipson RS (1957). "Phoebus Aaron Theodor Levene, 1869–1940". Adv Carbohydr Chem 12: 1–12. PMID 13617111.
- Levene PA, La Forge FB (April 1915). "On Chondrosamine". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 1 (4): 190–1. doi:10.1073/pnas.1.4.190. PMC 1090774. PMID 16575974. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1090774.
- Simoni RD, Hill RL, Vaughan M (31 May 2002). "The Structure of Nucleic Acids and Many Other Natural Products: Phoebus Aaron Levene". J. Biol. Chem. 277 (22): e11. http://www.jbc.org/content/277/22/e11.full. This short article by Simoni, et al. mentions scientific contributions including the paper: Levene PA (1919). "The Structure of Yeast Nucleic Acid: IV. Ammonia Hydrolysis" (PDF). J. Biol. Chem. 40 (2): 415–424. http://www.jbc.org/content/40/2/415.full.pdf+html?sid=3e462e84-3507-4aed-ba20-d24475424d5f.
Discovery of the DNA Double Helix
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Phoebus Levene — Phoebus Aaron Theodore Levene (* 25. Februar 1869 als Faschel Aaronowitsch Lewin in Schagory, Ujesd Schaweli, Gouvernement Kaunas; † 6. September 1940 in New York) war ein litauischer Biochemiker … Deutsch Wikipedia
Levene — may refer to: People *Phoebus Levene, (1869 1940), biochemist who identified the components of DNA *Keith Levene, (b. 1957), English guitarist and songwriter *Sam Levene, (1905 1980), American stage and film actor *George Levene, (1885 1930),… … Wikipedia
Phoebus (disambiguation) — Phoebus is one of the most important and many sided of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology.Phoebus may also refer to:* Captain Phoebus, a fictional character from The Hunchback of Notre Dame * Phoebus, Virginia, United States *… … Wikipedia
Levene — ist der Name folgender Personen: Keith Levene (* 1957), britischer Musiker Phoebus Levene (1869–1940), litauischer Biochemiker Siehe auch: Levene Test, ein statistischer Signifikanztest Diese Seit … Deutsch Wikipedia
LEVENE, PHOEBUS AARON THEODOR — (1869–1940), U.S. biochemist. Born in Sagor, Russia, as Fishel Aaronovich Levin, he immigrated to New York in 1892, and practiced medicine there till 1896. At the same time he studied chemistry at Columbia University and carried out research in… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Levene , Phoebus Aaron Theodor — (1869–1940) Russian–American biochemist Levene was born in Sagor, Russia, and gained his MD from St. Petersburg in 1891. He then emigrated with his family to America where he attended courses in chemistry at Columbia University, New York. He… … Scientists
Levene, Phoebus — ▪ American chemist original name Fishel Aaronovich Levin born Feb. 25, 1869, Sagor, Russia died Sept. 6, 1940, New York, N.Y., U.S. Russian born American chemist and pioneer in the study of nucleic acids (nucleic acid). On… … Universalium
B-DNA — Animiertes Strukturmodell einer DNA Helix in B Konformation. Die Stickstoff (blau) enthaltenden Nukleinbasen liegen waagrecht zwischen zwei Rückgratsträngen, welche sehr reich an Sauerstoff (rot) … Deutsch Wikipedia
DNA-Doppelhelix — Animiertes Strukturmodell einer DNA Helix in B Konformation. Die Stickstoff (blau) enthaltenden Nukleinbasen liegen waagrecht zwischen zwei Rückgratsträngen, welche sehr reich an Sauerstoff (rot) … Deutsch Wikipedia
DNS-Doppelhelix — Animiertes Strukturmodell einer DNA Helix in B Konformation. Die Stickstoff (blau) enthaltenden Nukleinbasen liegen waagrecht zwischen zwei Rückgratsträngen, welche sehr reich an Sauerstoff (rot) … Deutsch Wikipedia