Genetics: Timeline of key events

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A.P. Feinberg, B. Vogelstein, 'Hypomethylation distinguishes genes of some human cancers from their normal counterparts', Nature, 301/5895 (1983), 89-92.1983-01-06T00:00:00+0000The first genetic fingerprint was discovered by accident by Alec Jeffrey when conducting experiments to look at how genetic variations evolved. 1984-09-10T00:00:00+0000A. Bird, M. Taggart, M. Frommer, O.J. Miller, D. Macleod, ‘A fraction of the mouse genome that is derived from islands of nonmethylated, CpG-rich DNA’, Cell, 40/1 (1985 Jan;40(1):91-9. 1985-01-01T00:00:00+0000This was developed by the British geneticist Jeffreys. He developed the technique as part of his efforts to trace genes through family lineages. It was based on his discovery that each individual had unique numbers of repeated DNA fragments, called restriction fragment length polymorphisms, in their cells. The principle was described in A J Jeffreys, V Wilson, S L Thein, 'Hypervariable 'minisatellite' regions in human DNA', Nature, 314 (1985), 67-73. 1985-03-07T00:00:00+0000Undertaken to prove maternity of a 15 year old boy threatened with deportation to Ghana by the UK Home Office because of doubts over the identity of his mother, an immigrant based in the UK. The test proved the boy was related to his mother. Without the test the mother and son would not have been able to remain together in the same country. 1985-05-17T00:00:00+0000T. Bestor, A. Laudano, R. Mattaliano, V. Ingram, 'Cloning and sequencing of a cDNA encoding DNA methyltransferase of mouse cells', Journal Molecular Biology, 203 (1988), 971–83. 1988-10-20T00:00:00+0000Beadle, an American geneticist, was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1958 for discovering the role of genes in regulating biochemical events within cells.1989-07-09T00:00:00+0000V. Greger, E. Passarge, W. Hopping, E. Messmer, B. Horsthemke, 'Epigenetic changes may contribute to the formation and spontaneous regression of retinoblastoma', Human Genetics, 83 (1989), 155–58. 1989-09-01T00:00:00+0000Luria shared the 1969 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses.'1991-02-06T00:00:00+0000M. Frommer, L.E. McDonald, D.S. Millar, C.M. Collis, F. Watt, G.W. Grigg, P.L. Molloy, C.L. Paul, 'A genomic sequencing protocol that yields a positive display of 5-methylcytosine residues in individual DNA strands', PNAS, 89/5 (1992), 1827-31.1992-03-01T00:00:00+0000Mouse genetated with genes knocked out that produce the enzyme DNA methyltransfgerase involved in DNA methylation. E. Li, T.H. Bestor, R. Jaenisch, 'Targeted mutation of the DNA methyltransferase gene results in embryonic lethality', Cell, 69/6 (1992), 915-26.1992-06-12T00:00:00+0000McClintock was a pioneer in the field of cytogenetics, a branch of genetics concerned with how chromosomes affect cell behaviour. Based on her investigation of how chromosomes change in reproductiuon in maize she demonstrated in the late 1920s that genes can shift to different locations by themselves. In the 1940s and 1950s she showed that genes are responsible for turning physical characteristics on and off, a process called transposition. Initially scientists were sceptical of her findings so she stopped publishing her date in 1953. By the 1960s and 1970s attitudes towards her work changed as more scientists made similar findings. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983 for her work.1992-09-02T00:00:00+0000W.F. Zapisek, G.M. Cronin, B.D. Lyn-Cook, L.A. Poirier, 'The onset of oncogene hypomethylation in the livers of rats fed methyl-deficient, amino acid-defined diets', Carcinogenesis, 13/10 (1992), 1869-72.1992-10-01T00:00:00+0000Holley shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.'1993-02-11T00:00:00+0000A Spanish biochemist, Ochoa helped outline the mechanisms involved in the synthesis of DNA and RNA. This was helped by his discovery of an enzyme in bacteria that allowed him to synthesize ribonucleic acid or RNA.1993-11-01T00:00:00+0000Howard shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Medicine for work on the interactions between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell. 1994-02-09T00:00:00+0000Pauling was an American chemist and biochemist who helped pioneer quantum chemistry and mechanics. He combined methods from x-ray crystallography, molecular model building and quantum chemistry. Pauling was the first to find the alpha helix structure of proteins. In 1954 he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his 'research on the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex structures.' He also co-authored the first paper to suggest sickle-cell anaemia was a genetic disease, which introduced the concept of 'molecular disease'. 1994-08-19T00:00:00+00001995-01-01T00:00:00+0000P.W. Laird, L. Jackson-Grusby, A. Fazeli, S. L. Dickinson, W. E. Jung, E. Li, R.A. Weinberg, R. Jaenisch, 'Suppression of intestinal neoplasia by DNA hypomethylation', Cell, 81 (1995),197-205, April 21, 1995,1995-04-21T00:00:00+0000Snell was a major founder of immunogenetics as a discipline. He is best known for helping to identify the major histocompatibility complex, a group of genes that code for proteins found on the surface of cells that help the immune system differentiate between self and nonself cells, and demonstrating its role in tissue graft rejection. This work laid the foundation for carrying out successful transplants in both animals and humans. Snell shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions'.1996-06-06T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
6 Jan 1983Widespread loss of DNA methylation found on cytosine-guanine (CpG) islands in tumour samplesFeinberg, VogelsteinJohns Hopkins UniversityDNA methylation, Epigenetics
10 Sep 1984First genetic fingerprint revealedJeffreysUniversity of LeicesterDNA sequencing, genetics, PCR
Jan 1985DNA methylation found to occur on specific DNA segments called CpG islandsBird, Taggart, Fromer, Miller, MacleodEdinburgh University, Kanematsu Laboratories, Columbia UniversityDNA methylation, Epigenetics
7 Mar 1985DNA fingerprinting principle laid out JeffreysUniversity of LeicesterDNA sequencing, genetics, PCR
17 May 19851st legal case resolved using DNA fingerprintingJeffreysUniversity of LeicesterDNA sequencing, genetics
20 Oct 1988Cloning of first mammalian enzyme (DNA methyltransferase, DNMT) that catalyses transfer of methyl group to DNA Bestor, Laudano, Mattaliano, IngramMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyDNA methylation, Epigenetics
9 Jul 1989George Wells Beadle diedBeadleCalifornia Institute of TechnologyGenetics
Sep 1989DNA methylation suggested to inactivate tumour suppressor genesGreger, Passarge, Hopping, Messmer, HorsthemkeInstitute of Human GeneticsDNA methylation, Epigenetics, Oncology
6 Feb 1991Salvador E Luria diedLuriaMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyGenetics, Virology
1 Mar 1992Method devised to isolate methylated cytosine residues in individual DNA strands providing avenue to undertake DNA methylation genomic sequencing  DNA methylation, Epigenetics,DNA sequencing
12 Jun 1992First transgenic mouse model created for studying link between DNA methylation and diseaseLi, Bestor, JaenischWhitehead Institute for Biomedical ResearchEpigenetics, Transgenic animals
2 Sep 1992Barbara McClintock diedMcClintockUniversity of MissouriGenetics
1 Oct 1992First experimental evidence showing links between diet and DNA methylation and its relationship with cancerZapisek, Cronin, Lyn-Cook, PoirierFDA, National Center for Toxicological ResearchDNA methylation, Epigenetics, Oncology
11 Feb 1993Robert W Holley diedHolleyCornell UniversityGenetics
1 Nov 1993Severo Ochoa diedOchoaNew York UniversityGenetics, DNA
9 Feb 1994Howard M Temin diedTeminUniversity of WisconsinGenetics, Virology, Oncology
19 Aug 1994Linus C Pauling diedPaulingCalifornia Institute of TechnologyGenetics, DNA
1995Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Eric Wieschaus and Edward B Lewis jointly awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for illuminating the genetic control of embryonic developmentNusslein-Volhard, Wieschaus, Lewis Genetics, Embryology
21 Apr 1995First evidence published to demonstrate reduced DNA methylation contributes to formation of tumoursLaird, Jackson-Grusby, Fazeli, Dickinson, Jung, Li, Weinberg, JaenischMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts General HospitalDNA methylation, Epigenetics, Oncology
6 Jun 1996George D Snell diedSnellJackson LaboratoryGenetics, Immunology, Transplantation

6 Jan 1983

Widespread loss of DNA methylation found on cytosine-guanine (CpG) islands in tumour samples

10 Sep 1984

First genetic fingerprint revealed

Jan 1985

DNA methylation found to occur on specific DNA segments called CpG islands

7 Mar 1985

DNA fingerprinting principle laid out

17 May 1985

1st legal case resolved using DNA fingerprinting

20 Oct 1988

Cloning of first mammalian enzyme (DNA methyltransferase, DNMT) that catalyses transfer of methyl group to DNA

9 Jul 1989

George Wells Beadle died

Sep 1989

DNA methylation suggested to inactivate tumour suppressor genes

6 Feb 1991

Salvador E Luria died

1 Mar 1992

Method devised to isolate methylated cytosine residues in individual DNA strands providing avenue to undertake DNA methylation genomic sequencing

12 Jun 1992

First transgenic mouse model created for studying link between DNA methylation and disease

2 Sep 1992

Barbara McClintock died

1 Oct 1992

First experimental evidence showing links between diet and DNA methylation and its relationship with cancer

11 Feb 1993

Robert W Holley died

1 Nov 1993

Severo Ochoa died

9 Feb 1994

Howard M Temin died

19 Aug 1994

Linus C Pauling died

1995

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Eric Wieschaus and Edward B Lewis jointly awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for illuminating the genetic control of embryonic development

21 Apr 1995

First evidence published to demonstrate reduced DNA methylation contributes to formation of tumours

6 Jun 1996

George D Snell died