50º aniversário da descoberta da transcriptase reversa

quinta-feira, abril 22, 2021

Molecular Biology of the Cell Vol. 32, No. 2 Retrospective

50th anniversary of the discovery of reverse transcriptase

John M. Coffin

Matthew Welch, Monitoring Editor

Published Online:15 Jan 2021 https://doi.org/10.1091/mbc.E20-09-0612

Source/Fonte: Thomas Splettstoesser (www.scistyle.com


The simultaneous discovery in 1970 of reverse transcriptase in virions of retroviruses by Howard Temin and David Baltimore was perhaps the most dramatic scientific moment of the second half of the 20th century. Ten years previously, Temin’s observation of cells transformed by Rous Sarcoma virus led him to the conclusion that retroviruses replicate through a DNA intermediate he called the provirus. This heretical hypothesis was greeted with derision by fellow scientists; Temin and Baltimore performed a simple experiment, rapidly reproduced, and convincing to all. Its result was a major paradigm shift—reversal of the central dogma of molecular biology. It immediately grabbed the attention of both the scientific and lay press. It also came at a key time for cancer research, at the start of the “War on Cancer.” As a theoretical base and fundamental molecular tool, it enabled a decade of (largely fruitless) search for human oncogenic retroviruses but laid the foundation for the discovery of HIV 13 years later, leading to the development of effective therapy. I had the good fortune, as a student in Temin’s lab, to witness these events. I am honored to be able to share my recollection on the occasion of their 50th anniversary.