Friedrich Miescher (1844-1895) on nuclein

    Miescher collected single-cell leucocytes from pus in bandages, and and subjected them to various chemical treatments. Gentle lysis of of leucocytes in salt solution produced intact nuclei, which upon precipitation and chemical analysis produced a substance with a very high content of phosphoric acid. This contrasted sharply with sulfur-containing protein, and other known cell components such as carbohydrates and lipids. Miescher named this material nuclein. The significance of the difference in composition remained unknown in Miescher's lifetime. We now know this substance as nucleic acid., and recognize the PO4 as a component of the backbone.


All text material © 2011 by Steven M. Carr