DNA-like-RNA - What Does Messenger RNA Do?
There was, however, a minor, short-lived type of RNA that did show a correlation with the DNA base composition and was similar to it. This variant RNA was first noted by the American researchers Elliot Volkin and Lazarus Astrachan. While studying bacteriophage infection in bacteria at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, they had observed how the infection halted bacterial protein synthesis and initiated phage protein synthesis. When this happened, while most of cellular RNA remained the same, the base composition of a small fraction of RNA was seen to mimic the base composition of the viral DNA and correlate with it. Volkin and Astrachan called this variant RNA "DNA-like-RNA" in a paper 'Phosphorus Incorporation in E. Coli Ribonucleic Acid After Infection'that they published in the Journal of Virology in 1956.
Volkin and Astrachan did not get the significance of their finding, but, based on their research, other researchers like Sydney Brenner, Francois Jacob, Jacques Monod, Matthew Meselson, Francois Gros, James Watson and Bruce Spiegelman were able to figure out that these "DNA-like-RNA" were the molecules that encoded genetic information from the DNA and carried it to the cytoplasm to form proteins. Since, in conveying information from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, they acted as messengers, they became known as messenger RNA.
The French biologists Francois Jacob and Jacques Monod received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their part in this research in 1965.