A Timeline of TMV

Seeing as we’re coming up on the 120th birthday of the discovery of TMV in 2018,  it is appropriate to publish a historical timeline specifically for TMV.  This is from my ebook, available here.


TMV-induced local lesions in N. tabacum cv. glutinosa

TMV particle: 95% protein, 5% RNA. Courtesy Russell Kightley Media

The history of TMV has been well covered elsewhere – with an excellent free text written by K-B Scholthof, available here – but it is worth recapitulating how many times TMV appears in the history of virology, as new technological developments allowed new findings about its properties.

1898: Beijerinck shows that a bacteria-free filtered extract from mosaic diseased tobacco is infectious, and coins a new term – “contagium vivum fluidum”.

1929: FO Holmes shows that local lesions caused by infection of tobacco by TMV could be used as a means of assaying the infectivity of virus stocks.

1935: Stanley crystallises TMV, and also shows by centrifugation and electron microscopy that it consists of large, regular rodlike particles.

1936: Bernal and Fankuchen publish X-ray diffraction pictures from gels of purified TMV

1937: Bawden and Pirie show using chemical methods that TMV is a ribonucleoprotein.

1954: James Watson shows by X-ray studies that TMV is probably helical.

1956: Fraenkel-Conrat and Gierer and Schramm showed that TMV RNA was infectious, and provided all the information necessary to produce virions in plants.

1956: Rosalind Franklin locates the RNA within TMV virions by X-ray diffraction.

1958: Franklin and Holmes show that TMV virions are helical.

1958: Gierer and KW Mundry show that TMV mutants with altered genomes could be produced by treatment of virions with nitrous acid, which only alters nucleic acids.

1962: Tsugita et al. provided the first demonstration of in vitro translation from a specific mRNA, and also direct proof that the single-stranded TMV genome was “messenger sense”.

1975: Holmes and Stubbs publish a 6.7 A map of the structure of TMV

1977: Holmes, Stubbs & Warren publish 4 A structure for TMV

1977: Butler. Lebeurier and colleagues publish models for the self-assembly of TMV

1982: Goelet and colleagues sequence TMV

1989: Stubbs’ group publishes a 2.9 A resolution map of TMV structure


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