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Structural identification of the major DNA adduct formed by aflatoxin B1 in vitro

J M Essigmann
R G Croy
A M Nadzan
W F Busby, Jr.
V N Reinhold
G Büchi
G N Wogan

Research question: What is the structure of the compound formed when aflatoxin B1 reacts with DNA?

The structure of aflatoxin B1.

Aflatoxin (shown above) is one of the most toxic substances known. An outbreak that resulted in the death of 100,000 turkeys alerted the world to the toxin, and many groups set about determining its mechanism of action. Two groups at MIT, the Wogan group in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science and the Büchi group in the Department of Chemistry, solved the structure of the major compound formed when aflatoxin reacted with DNA. They reported their data in the May 1977 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. John Essigmann, now a Professor at MIT, was a graduate student at the time and the first author of the work.

This module contains:
  • An overview that contextualizes the research while providing some chemical background.
  • A detailed experiment timeline. Every experiment is linked to scans of the corresponding pages in John Essigmann's research notebook (PDF). Selected experiments are linked to audiovisual supplementary information.
  • Video interviews with John Essigmann, Robert Croy, and Gerald Wogan. The authors explain their research philosophies, experiment rationales, and share interesting stories from the period.
  • Author profiles for John Essigmann, Robert Croy, and Gerald Wogan (click on the links at the top of this page).
  • The full manuscript (HTML and PDF).
  • A glossary of some obscure terms. The glossary is also accessible from the Read the Paper page. Move the mouse over any hyperlinked word and its definition will appear in a tooltip.
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