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Letter from Alexander Todd to Linus Pauling. February 10, 1953.
Todd writes to congratulate Pauling on the DNA structure that he and Corey have developed. He also discusses those scientists that he knows are currently engaged in "nucelotide examination," and provides a list of ribonucleotides that his laboratory can provide to Pauling. Todd likewise suggests that Pauling might be better served to examine the deoxyribonucleotides, owing to a general lack of activity with these substances. Todd also notes the general lack of success that his laboratory has achieved with respect to the preparation and study of ATP.


ART/JS 10th February, 1953

Professor Linus Pauling,

Gates and Crellin Laboratories,

California Institute of Technology,

Pasadena 4,


Dear Linus,

On my return from India I found your letter of 19th December awaiting me with the exciting news that you think you have got the structure of the nucleic acids. I shall be most interested to get more detail of it and I hope you will keep me posted. Certainly if there is any help we can give you we will be only too glad to do so.

I have seen Bragg and Cochran about this question of nucleotide examination because I agree with you that we are sorely in need of data on these substances. Cochran is actually doing an examination of adenylic acid b which he got from us, and he also has a sample of muscle adenylic acid which he is looking at in a preliminary way. I understand that these nucleotides are very difficult subjects for study and I do not think that Cochran is likely to tackle more than these two in the near future. I would say then that if you keep off the phosphates of adenosine you would not be duplicating their present work.

As regards other people who might be doing something of the sort, Zussmann, who was here in the Cavendish and then went to Manchester, took away with him a sample of the crystalline barium salt of uridine-5' phosphate which we gave him. We have not heard from him since and so I do not know whether he is working on it seriously or not. Furberg in Oslo is also supposed to be working on cytidylic acid b and he was at us some time ago for a sample of ribose-5 phosphate, but again I know nothing about his progress.

So far, of course, we have been the chief suppliers of these substances although a number of then can probably be got in the States. In addition to those above mentioned, the following ribonucleotides are crystalline and we either have them available or could get them for you:

uridylic acid b and cytidine-5' phosphate,and cutidylic acid a

Professor Linus Pauling page 2

I have wondered, however, whether, since as far as I know no-one is doing anything about the deoxyribonucleotides, and since we have been synthesizing them and it is most unlikely that anyone else can produce them, you might wish to look at some of them. We have so far made both the 3' and 5' phosphates of thymidine and deoxycytidine, and we are at present preparing the corresponding substances from deoxyadenosine and deoxyguanosine. I wonder if you would let me know what things you think you would like to have, and as soon as I hear from you I can get samples of them sent off.

You mention ATP in your letter. Actually we have never been able to crystallise free ATP, and the only crystalline derivative we have is acridine salt; the substance itself and its barium salt seem to be resolutely amorphous. At the moment I do not think we have any good preparation on hand but we have a main in the lab, who is making some ATP, so if you would like to have it I can let you have some in the form of a salt when it is ready.

I look forward to hearing from you soon and meantime send best regards to all of you.



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