History Tidbit: Frederick Sanger (13 August 1913 to 19 November 2013) and the structure of insulin
Alan D. Rogol, MD, Ph.D
Frederick Sanger obtained a doctorate in biochemistry in 1943 at Cambridge University. He continued to work there and deduced that insulin was a 2-chain heterodimer consisting of a 21-residue A chain linked to a 30-residue B chain by 2 disulfide bonds (Biochem J 1951; 49:463- and 481; 1953; 53:353- and 366). Insulin was the first protein to be fully sequenced leading to the first of two Nobel Prizes: 1958 in Chemistry “for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin”.
He then began work to sequence RNA and DNA and in 1980 he shared the second with Walter Gilbert “for their contribution concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids” (J Mol Biol 1975; 94:441).