Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

13 Chemical Structure and Biological Activity of Bacteriophage MS2 RNA

Walter Fiers


Upon my return to Belgium in 1963, I decided to work on the structure of bacteriophage RNA. Indeed, at that time the prospects for a breakthrough in the understanding of the molecular biology of an RNA virus seemed very promising. It was only two years after the discovery of the f2 by Loeb and Zinder (1961), and it was obvious that viral RNA would play a decisive role in the study of translation, both as regards the mechanism of protein synthesis as well as the print-out of genetic information (Nirenberg and Matthaei 1961; Crick et al. 1961; Nathans et al. 1962), in the study of viral RNA replication (Baltimore and Franklin 1962; Weissmann, Simon and Ochoa 1963) and in the study of the physiology of virus-infected cells (Cooper and Zinder 1962). The interest centered mainly on the viral RNA itself, since Davis, Strauss and Sinsheimer (1961) showed that this component by itself was sufficient for infection (although we now know that in normal infection the viral RNA penetrates the host cell in association with the A protein; Kozak and Nathans 1971; Krahn, O’Callaghan and Paranchych 1972). Moreover, as similar RNA phages could be readily isolated, such as MS2 by J. Clark (cited in Davis, Strauss and Sinsheimer 1961) and R17 by Paranchych and Graham (1961), this system was also of potential value for studying the evolutionary variability of RNA as a genetic information carrier. No doubt an understanding of all these aspects would be greatly benefitted if the...

Full Text: