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Mahlon Hoagland

mahlon hoagland, the way life works by mahlon hoagland
Mahlon Bush Hoagland October 5, 1921 – September 18, 2009 was an American biochemist who discovered transfer RNA tRNA, the translator of the genetic code


  • 1 Biography
    • 11 Early life
    • 12 Work
  • 2 Notes
  • 3 Works
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


Early life

Mahlon Bush Hoagland was born in Boston, Massachusetts, US in 1921 to Hudson and Anna Hoagland Hudson was an American physiologist who was known for co-founding the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology with Gregory Pincus He graduated from The Hill School in 1940 and attended Williams College, and in 1948 received his MD from Harvard Medical School with intentions of becoming a pediatric surgeon After a bout with tuberculosis, Hoagland was forced to change career directions and became involved with research

Hoagland took a research position at Massachusetts General Hospital in the lab of Paul Zamecnik, where he researched and detailed the role of transfer RNA in forming proteins

From 1953-1967 Hoagland served as an associate professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School In 1967, upon leaving Harvard he was appointed professor in the biochemistry department at the Dartmouth Medical School In 1970, Hoagland became scientific director of the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, retiring in 1985 after 15 years in the directorship


By the time Hoagland had joined Huntington Laboratories, his colleagues there were well known for their work in protein synthesis In the early 1950s Hoagland and his associates were able to show that polypeptide synthesis occurs on ribosomes They did this by giving a rat injections of radioactive amino acids, waiting for a defined period of time, extracting the liver, and examining sub-cellular fractions for radioactivity He found that after longer periods of times hours, days radioactively labeled proteins were present in all subcellular fractions However, if they allowed less time to pass, radioactivity was found in only certain particles, which they deemed the sites of proteins synthesis These particles were named ribosomes

During their experiments with rat liver cells, Hoagland and Zamecnik noticed that in the presence of ATP, amino acids associate with heat soluble RNA, which was later named transfer RNA tRNA This amino acid and tRNA complex was later called aminoacyl-tRNA Hoagland’s major contribution to the laboratory was in his work with amino acid activating enzymes He discovered that certain enzymes were required to activate amino acids so they could associate with tRNA molecules and eventually be incorporated into new protein molecules These enzymes were named aminoacyl tRNA synthetases Incidentally, this lab’s discovery of tRNA supported the theory of complementarity molecular biology proposed by Watson and Crick

He was awarded the Franklin Medal in 1976

Mahlon Hoagland’s other work involved the carcinogenic effects of beryllium, biosynthesis of coenzyme A, as well as liver regeneration and control


  1. ^ a b c d e f Vicki Glaser, Mahlon Hoagland, RNA Expert, Dies at 87 obituary, New York Times, Oct 2, 2009
  2. ^ a b "Mahlon Bush Hoagland" Retrieved 2007-05-11 
  3. ^ "Hoagland, Mahlon Bush" Retrieved 2007-05-11 
  4. ^ a b Horace Freeland Judson, The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology Simon & Schuster, 1979


  • Hoagland, MB et al "A soluble ribonucleic acid intermediate in protein synthesis”Journal of Biological Chemistry 1958 Mar; 2311:241-57
  • Hoagland, MB Toward the Habit of Truth: A life in Science New York: Norton, 1990
  • Dodson, Bert, and Mahlon Hoagland The Way Life Works: The Science Lover's Illustrated Guide to How Life Grows, Develops, Reproduces, and Gets Along New York: Times Books, 1995


  • "Mahlon Bush Hoagland" Retrieved 2007-05-11 
  • Cox, Michael M; David L Nelson Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry 4th ed New York: WH Freeman and Company pp 1034–1035 

External links

  • Mahlon Hoagland, tRNA Expert, Dies at 87, The New York Times, 1 October 2009
  • Professor Mahlon Hoagland - Daily Telegraph obituary
  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir

mahlon hoagland, paul zamecnik and mahlon hoagland, the way life works by mahlon hoagland

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