JOHANNES FRIEDRICH MIESCHER (13 August 1844 – 26 August 1895) was a
Swiss physician and biologist. He was the first researcher to isolate
nucleic acid .
* 1 Biography
* 2 See also
* 3 Notes and references
* 4 Bibliography
* 5 External links
Miescher isolated various phosphate-rich chemicals, which he called
nuclein (now nucleic acids ), from the nuclei of white blood cells in
Felix Hoppe-Seyler 's laboratory at the University of
Germany , paving the way for the identification of
the carrier of inheritance. The significance of the discovery, first
published in 1871, was not at first apparent, and it was Albrecht
Kossel who made the initial inquiries into its chemical structure.
Friedrich Miescher raised the idea that the nucleic acids could
be involved in heredity.
Miescher came from a scientific family: his father and his uncle held
the chair of anatomy at the University of
Basel . As a boy he was shy
but intelligent. He had an interest in music, and his father performed
publicly. Miescher studied medicine at Basel. In the summer of 1865
Friedrich worked for the organic chemist Adolf Stecker in Göttingen ,
but his studies were interrupted for the year when he became ill with
typhoid fever, which left him hearing-impaired. However, he still
received his MD in 1868.
Miescher felt that his partial deafness would be a disadvantage as a
doctor, so he turned to physiological chemistry. He originally wanted
to study lymphocytes but was encouraged by
Felix Hoppe-Seyler to study
neutrophils . He was interested in studying the chemistry of the
nucleus . Lymphocytes were difficult to obtain in sufficient numbers
to study, while neutrophiles were known to be one of the main and
first components in pus and could be obtained from bandages at the
nearby hospital. The problem was, however, washing the cells off the
bandages without damaging them.
Miescher devised different salt solutions, eventually producing one
with sodium sulfate. The cells were filtered. Since centrifuges were
not available at the time, the cells were allowed to settle to the
bottom of a beaker. He then tried to isolate the nuclei free of
cytoplasm . He subjected the purified nuclei to an alkaline extraction
followed by acidification, resulting in the formation of a precipitate
that Miescher called nuclein (now known as
DNA ). He found that this
contained phosphorus and nitrogen, but not sulfur. The discovery was
so unlike anything else at the time that Hoppe-Seyler repeated all
Miescher's research himself before publishing it in his journal.
Miescher then went on to study physiology at Leipzig in the laboratory
of Carl Ludwig for a year before being appointed professor of
Miescher and his students researched much nucleic acid chemistry, but
its function remained unknown. However, his discovery played an
important part in the identification of nucleic acids as the carriers
of inheritance. The importance of Miescher's discovery was not
Albrecht Kossel (a German physiologist specializing in
the physiological chemistry of the cell and its nucleus and of
proteins) carried out research on the chemical structure of nuclein.
Friedrich Miescher is also known for demonstrating that carbon dioxide
concentrations in blood regulate breathing.
He died of tuberculosis in 1895 aged 51. A laboratory of the Max
Planck Society in
Tübingen and a research institute in
been named after him.
Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research
NOTES AND REFERENCES
* ^ A B C D E F Dahm, R (Jan 2008). "Discovering DNA: Friedrich
Miescher and the early years of nucleic acid research". Human
Genetics. 122 (6): 565–81. doi :10.1007/s00439-007-0433-0 . ISSN
0340-6717 . PMID 17901982 .
* ^ Jones, Mary Ellen (September 1953). "Albrecht Kossel, A
Biographical Sketch" . Yale Journal of
Biology and Medicine. National
Center for Biotechnology Information . 26 (1): 80–97. PMC 2599350
. PMID 13103145 .
Bill Bryson ,
A Short History of Nearly Everything
A Short History of Nearly Everything , Broadway
Books, 2005, p. 500.
* ^ Miescher, Friedrich (1871) "Ueber die chemische Zusammensetzung
der Eiterzellen" (On the chemical composition of pus cells),
Medicinisch-chemische Untersuchungen, 4 : 441–460. From p. 456: "Ich
habe mich daher später mit meinen Versuchen an die ganzen Kerne
gehalten, die Trennung der Körper, die ich einstweilen ohne weiteres
Präjudiz als lösliches und unlösliches Nuclein bezeichnen will,
einem günstigeren Material überlassend." ("Therefore, in my
experiments I subsequently limited myself to the whole nucleus,
leaving to a more favorable material the separation of the substances,
that for the present, without further prejudice, I will designate as
soluble and insoluble nuclear material ('Nuclein').")
* Dahm, R (Jan 2008). "Discovering DNA:
Friedrich Miescher and the
early years of nucleic acid research". Human Genetics. 122 (6):
565–81. doi :10.1007/s00439-007-0433-0 . ISSN 0340-6717 . PMID
* Dahm, R (Feb 2005). "
Friedrich Miescher and the discovery of DNA".
Developmental Biology. 278 (2): 274–88. doi
:10.1016/j.ydbio.2004.11.028 . ISSN 0012-1606 . PMID 15680349 .
* Maderspacher, F (Aug 2004). "Rags before the riches: Friedrich
Miescher and the discovery of DNA". Current Biology. 14 (15): R608.
doi :10.1016/j.cub.2004.07.039 . ISSN 0960-9822 . PMID 15296772 .
* Knill, Rl (May 1993). "Practical CO2 monitoring in anaesthesia".
Canadian Journal of Anesthesia. 40 (5 Pt 2): R40–9. doi
:10.1007/BF03020684 . ISSN 0832-610X . PMID 8500212 .
* Merke, F (Jan 1973). "Forgotten fundamental physiological studies
of migrating salmon by Basel's physiologist, Friedrich Miescher".
Gesnerus. 30 (1-2): 47–52. ISSN 0016-9161 . PMID 4581278 .
* James, J (Mar 1970). "Miescher\'s discoveries of 1869. A centenary
of nuclear chemistry". Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry. 18
(3): 217–9. doi :10.1177/18.3.217 . ISSN 0022-1554 . PMID 4908150 .
* Ostrowski, W (1970). "From nucleic acids to DNA. On the 100th
anniversary of the discovery of nucleic acids by Friedrich Miescher".
Postepy biochemii. 16 (4): 581–7. ISSN 0032-5422 . PMID 4921671 .
* De, Meuron-Landolt, M (Jan 1970). "Johannes Friedrich Miescher:
his personality and the importance of his work". Bulletin der
Schweizerischen Akademie der Medizinischen Wissenschaften. 25 (1-2):
9–24. ISSN 0036-7494 . PMID 4910336 . CS1 maint: Multiple names:
authors list (link )
* Bernhard, K (Jan 1970). "Jonhannes
Friedrich Miescher Symposium.
100th anniversary of the discovery of nucleic acids. Welcome".
Bulletin der Schweizerischen Akademie der Medizinischen
Wissenschaften. 25 (1-2): 32–4. ISSN 0036-7494 . PMID 4908661 .
* Harbers, E (Oct 1969). "On the discovery of
DNA by Friedrich
Miescher 100 years ago". German medical monthly. 14 (10): 517–8.
ISSN 0016-8785 . PMID 4903604 .