During the 1950s Crick made crucial contributions not only to the study of DNA and the genetic code, but to X-ray structure
analysis of important biological molecules. He was instrumental in extending helical diffraction theory to construct three-dimensional
maps of protein molecules from X-ray data. In particular, he calculated the complicated X-ray diffraction pattern produced
by a helix that was itself wound around a second axis into a larger super helix, or coiled coil. In this paper, Crick and
Alexander Rich, a visiting physical chemist in the Cavendish laboratory who had studied the structure of RNA with James Watson
at the California Institute of Technology, applied helical diffraction theory to deduce the three-chain, coiled coil structure
of collagen, a family of extracellular proteins that are a major component of connective tissue and make up one-third of all
proteins in the human body. The discovery of the three-dimensional structure of a protein was an important event in molecular
biology during the 1950s.
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1955-11-12 (November 12, 1955)
Periodical: Rich, Alexander, and Francis Crick. "The Structure of Collagen." Nature 176, 4489 (12 November 1955): 915-916. Article.
Nature Publishing Group
Reproduced with permission of the Nature Publishing Group.