During her 1954 visit to the United States, Franklin visited many virus researchers who would subsequently collaborate with
her on projects involving virus structures. Barry Commoner sent her samples of a protein he called B8, to compare with the
x-ray diffraction studies of TMV protein. They subsequently published several articles together on this work. In this first
letter, she apologized for delays caused by her x-ray equipment, and gave Commoner an update on her recent work.
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1954-11-08 (November 8, 1954)
[Washington University. Henry Shaw School of Botany]
Original Repository: Churchill Archives Centre. The Papers of Rosalind Franklin
Reproduced from the Franklin Collection at the Churchill Archives Centre with the permission of the copyright holder.
When I got back I found my X-ray apparatus in need of considerable repairs and I waited to get it in working order before
writing to you. It is now working well, and I should be extremely grateful if you could send me some of the materials you
suggested. I think we agreed that the easiest thing to start with would be your B8, with a view to getting a preparation
of orientated RNA-free rods. If you ever have enough to spare, I should also very much like to look at your young RNA-rich
I am extremely grateful to you for taking so much trouble in telling me all about your work. I enjoyed my visit to your laboratory
very much and was most interested in all you told me. As a result of these and other discussions I have come back with my
ideas about TMV considerably clarified, particularly concerning the kind of work I should do next.
Since my return I have calculated a Fourier projection, and find that TMV apparently has a high-density shell with a radius
of about 55A. (Caspar has also written to tell me that he has a similar result, though he finds a slightly smaller radius).
But I don't think we need necessarily conclude that the RNA lies in this position; the heavy shell may simply be a shell
of low hydration.
I hope to have a short paper ready soon on this and related subjects.
If you send me some B8, would you let please let me know what precautions are necessary to prevent it from depolymerising?