Biographies

Severo Ochoa, RNA and DNA

Severo Ochoa, RNA and DNA

Severo Ochoa was one of the most important Spanish scientists in history, born in Luarca (Asturias) in 1905 and died in Madrid in 1993. Thanks to his work in science, he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in the year 1959 together with the American Arthur Kornberg for his findings regarding the mechanism of the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid (RNA), as well as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

After exercising various positions both in Spain and abroad he traveled to the United States, where he developed numerous experiments in the field of pharmacology and biochemistry, especially in relation to enzymes, which led him to win the Bewberg Medal in 1591.

In this way, investigating the metabolism of fatty acids and carbohydrates discovered the existence of a new enzyme, the polynucleotide phosphotylase, which clarified the mechanism of oxidation of pyruvic acid.

During the 1950s, specifically in 1955, Severo Ochoa published with the biochemist Marianne Grunberg-Manago in the "Journal of the American Chemical Society" the discovery and isolation of said enzyme, which catalyzes the synthesis of RNA, the molecule necessary to synthesize proteins.

A year later, the American biochemist and disciple of Severo Ochoa, Arthur Kornberg, showed that DNA can also be synthesized by another enzyme polymerase. Thus, together they shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their findings in this field for their findings.

Subsequently, Severo Ochoa continued to investigate the molecular mechanism. Thus, he carried out experiments on the replication of viruses that contain RNA as genetic material, with which he discovered the main stages of this process. He also studied the mechanism of protein synthesis, discovering the translation initiation factors.

However, after the death of his wife, Severo Ochoa did not publish any scientific work, limiting himself to giving lectures and attending to the students of the Molecular Biology Center of Madrid.

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