January 6, 1921|
Saint Petersburg, former Soviet Union
|Died||January 3, 2013
Grunberg-Manago was born into a family of artists who adhered to the teachings of the Swiss educational reformer Johann Pestalozzi. When she was 9 months old, Grunberg-Manago's parents emigrated from the Soviet Union to France.
Education and Research
Grunberg-Manago studied biochemistry and, in 1955, while working in the lab of Spanish-America biochemist Severo Ochoa, she discovered the first nucleic-acid-synthesizing enzyme. Initially, everyone thought the new enzyme was an RNA polymerase used by E. coli cells to make long chains of RNA from separate nucleotides. But although the new enzyme could link a few nucleotides together, the reaction was highly reversible and it later became clear that the enzyme, polynucleotide phosphorylase, usually catalyzes the breakdown of RNA, not its synthesis.
Nonetheless, the enzyme was extraordinarily useful and important. Almost immediately, Marshall Nirenberg and J. Heinrich Matthaei put it to use to form the first three-nucleotide RNA codons, which coded for the amino acid phenylalanine. This first step in cracking the genetic code entirely depended on the availability of Grunberg-Manago’s enzyme.
Later Life and Death
Late in her career, Grunberg-Manago was named emeritus director of research at CNRS, France’s National Center for Scientific Research. She was also elected as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences.
Grunberg-Manago died in January, 2013, three days before her 92nd birthday.
- Grunberg-Manago, M. (1997). "Severo Ochoa. 24 September 1905--1 November 1993: Elected For.Mem.R.S. 1965". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 43: 351–310. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1997.0020.
- Grunberg-Manago, Marianne; Ortiz, P; Ochoa, S (April 1956). "Enzymic synthesis of polynucleotides. I. Polynucleotide phosphorylase of Azotobacter vinelandii.". Biochem Biophysica Acta 20 (1): 269–85. PMID 13315374.
- Grunberg-Manago, M.; Oritz, P. J.; Ochoa, S. (1955). "Enzymatic synthesis of nucleic acidlike polynucleotides". Science 122 (3176): 907–910. doi:10.1126/science.122.3176.907. PMID 13274047.
- "Biography of Marianne Grunberg-Manago" (in French). French Academy of Sciences. February 22, 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- "L'Académie des sciences a le regret de faire part du décès de Marianne Grunberg-Manago survenu à Paris le 3 janvier 2013." "Le 3 janvier, décès de Marianne Grunberg-Manago" (in French). French Academy of Sciences. January 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2013.