Phoebus Levene, American biochemist

Phoebus Levene, American biochemist

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Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Phoebus Levene (1869-1940), American biochemist. Levene was educated in St.Petersburg, but after obtaining his doctorate he emigrated to the USA. In 1909 he showed that the carbohydrate in yeast nucleic acid is ribose. In 1929 he showed that animal thymus nucleic acid is almost identical, but has one less oxygen; he called this deoxyribose. Levene suggested a simple tetranucleotide structure for RNA and DNA, with each of the four bases used just once in the structure. This would then be repeated to form a polynucleotide. Although wrong in this, Levene had at least shown that the nucleic acids were molecules independent of the proteins.

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