Major discoveries made with bacteriophages

phage picture

• plaque assay ( D'Herelle 1917ff, Gratia 1936, Hershey, Kalmanson & Bronfenbrenner, 1943)

•  nature of a virus life cycle (one-step growth experiment: Ellis & Delbrück 1939, eclipse— phage T4: Doermann 1948,

• nature and types of genetic mutations (phage T1: the Luria & Delbrück fluctuation test (1) (2) 1943; Hershey & Luria, 1945) intracellular assembly— phage T2: Kellenberger 1962)

• confirmation that genes are made of DNA (phage T2: Hershey & Chase experiment, 1952)

• virus-mediated gene transfer between cells (now called “gene therapy” — phage P22, Zinder 1953)
• restriction and modification (phage lambda: Bertani & Weigle, 1953. At the time, the phenomenon was called "host-controlled variation"), its enzymatic basis (bacteriophage P1: Dussoix & Arber, 1962)

• co-linearity of gene and protein (phage T4: Benzer, 1959)

• messenger RNA (phage T4: Brenner, Jacob, & Meselson, 1961)
• single-stranded DNA genome (phage X174: Sinsheimer, 1959)

• the nature of the genetic code (phage T4: Crick, Barnett, Brenner, & Watts-Tobin, 1961)
• physical nature of genetic recombination (phage lambda: Meselson & Weigle 1961)
•  chemical nature (protein) and mode of action (DNA binding) of a transcription factor (phage lambda repressor— Jacob & Monod, 1961, Ptashne 1967)
• site-specific recombination (phage lambda: Campbell 1962, Signer & Weil 1968, Echols, Gingery, & Moore 1968))
• DNA ligase (phage lambda: Gellert 1967)
•  important features of the mechanism of DNA replication (phage X174— in vitroDNA synthesis: Goulian, Kornberg, & Sinsheimer 1967, rolling circle: Gilbert & Dressler 1968;
phage T4— Okazaki fragments: Okazaki & Okazaki 1969;
phage M13— RNA primers: Brutlag, Schekman, & Kornberg 1971;
phage T7— visualization: Dressler, Magazin, & Wolfson 1972, completing ends of linear molecules: Watson 1972)
• anti-termination as a mechanism of transcriptional regulation (lambda: Roberts 1969)
• SDS-PAGE ( lambda— first SDS gels: Weber & Osborn, 1969; phage T4— discontinuous buffer system: Laemmli, 1971; phage T7— slab gels: Studier, 1973)
• DNA cloning (phage lambda: Berg, 1972, Lobban & Kaiser 1973)
• chaperonins (phage lambda: Georgopoulos, Hendrix, Casjens, & Kaiser, 1973)
•  characterization of insertion sequences& transposons ( lambda— IS1: Hu, Otsubo, Davidson, & Saedler 1975
• overlapping genes (phage X174: Barrell, Air, & Hutchison, 1976)
• retroregulation as a mechanism of translational regulation (lambda: Guarneros & Galindo 1979)

• luciferase reporter phages for medical diagnostics (mycobacteriophages: Jacobs, Barletta, Udani, Chan, Kalkut, Sosne, Kieser, Sarkis, Hatfull, and Bloom 1993)


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