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Register of the Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records
MSS 0077  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY
  • Preferred Citation
  • ABSTRACT
  • ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY
  • SCOPE AND CONTENT

  • DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

    Title: Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1971-1985
    Collection number: MSS 0077
    Extent: 33.00 linear feet (29 records cartons, 3 archives boxes and 1 art bin item)
    Repository: Mandeville Special Collections Library, Geisel Library, UC, San Diego
    La Jolla, CA 92093-0175
    Shelf Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Preferred Citation

    Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records, MSS 0077. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    ABSTRACT

    The records (1971-1985) of Dr. Russell F. Doolittle's biochemistry laboratory at the University of California, San Diego include notebooks related to the first determination of the complete sequence of amino acids in the human fibrinogen molecule, paper files for the amino acid sequences contained in the protein sequence data bank called NEWAT and an amino acid sequencing machine.
    The materials are arranged in three series: 1) NEWAT, 2) LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS and 3) AMINO ACID SEQUENCER.

    ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

    Dr. Russell F. Doolittle, professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, heads a campus science laboratory that conducts research in the evolutionary and structural aspects of proteins. In 1979, Doolittle's laboratory successfully analyzed the structure of the amino acid sequence for the human fibrinogen molecule.
    During that study, ten to twenty postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate researchers worked to pull apart and analyze the amino acid sequences in the alpha, beta and gamma chains of fibrinogen. Doolittle adapted a peptide synthesizing machine to break apart peptides and employed an amino acid analyzer to identify the sequences.
    The peptide synthesizer, which was the second peptide synthesizer ever constructed, was modeled on the prototype designed by Bruce Merrifield, then of Rockefeller University. Merrifield was later awarded the Nobel Prize for the design of the machine. The UCSD machine was constructed in 1964 at the instigation of Martin Kamen, a member of the Chemistry faculty. Professor Kamen had seen Merrifield's machine and, on his return to UCSD, asked Arthur Robinson, a graduate student in the Chemistry Department, to oversee construction of the machine. Robinson journeyed back to New York to examine Merrifield's machine more closely and then, after returning to UCSD, began constructing the UCSD machine.
    After a period of time, the machine was converted into a peptide sequencer. Instead of building up peptides one amino acid at a time, it would take them apart one amino acid at a time. In 1979, the machine was used to make the first determination of the complete amino acid sequence for the human fibrinogen molecule, which is composed of 2,934 amino acids.
    Doolittle also constructed a protein sequence data bank called NEWAT. Sequences identified in the published literature were entered into an electronic database and new sequences were searched against known sequences. In 1983, Doolittle used the data bank to link separate research efforts at the Center for Blood Research in Boston and the National Cancer Institute in Washington, D. C. He related a known cancer gene to a gene with a known function in human cells.

    SCOPE AND CONTENT

    The Russell Doolittle Biochemistry Laboratory Records document the activities of a UCSD science laboratory engaged in research on the structure of the human fibrinogen molecule. The materials are arranged in three series: 1) NEWAT, 2) LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS and 3) AMINO ACID SEQUENCER.
    SERIES 1: NEWAT
    The NEWAT series contains journal articles, printouts and summary data reports for individual amino acid sequences that were entered into the electronic data bank. The series begins with a list that relates the folder title acronym to the name and the journal citation for each amino acid sequence. The materials are arranged alphabetically by acronym.
    SERIES 2: LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS
    The LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS series contains notebooks by individual postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate researchers who worked on the project. Also included are notebooks that contain amino acid analysis charts and high performance liquid chromotography charts. The notebooks are arranged by name of researcher, subproject and type of chart as follows: 2A) Watt, Ken; 2B) Bouma, H.; 2C) Takagi, T.; 2D) Miscellaneous Researchers; 2E) Electric Birefringence; 2F) Peptide Synthesis; 2G) Analysis Charts; and 2H) High Performance Liquid Chromotography Charts.
    SERIES 3: AMINO ACID SEQUENCER
    This is the machine adapted by laboratory staff to pull apart amino acids.