MadSci Network: Science History

Re: who first discovered the process of chromosome walking

Date: Wed Aug 2 13:32:49 2006
Posted By: Steve Mack, Assistant Staff Scientist, Molecular and Cell Biology
Area of science: Science History
ID: 1154070255.Sh

Hi Abw,

To answer your question stricktly, no one discovered the process of chromosome walking, as the word discovery suggests that the thing that was discovered had been present but unnoticed. But I quibble.

The technique known as chromosome walking (or a chromosomal walk) was developed by Welcome Bender, Pierre Spierer, and David S. Hogness in the Early 1980's. The paper in which they first describe the technique is:
Bender W, Spierer P, and Hogness DS. (1983) Chromosomal Walking and Jumping to Isolate DNA from the ACE and rosy Loci and the Bithorax Complex in Drosophila melanogaster. J Mol Biol 168 17-33.

Reading the abstract of that paper, I find that the term "chromosomal walk" is used rather casually, as if everyone already knows what it is (which may have been the case, see below). But in the Introduction, the authors state, "The strategy we have used is called chromosomal walking and jumping; it is shown diagrammatically in Figure 1.", after which they explain how chromosomal walking works, followed by an explanation of chromosomal jumping. Interestingly though, this paper is not the first paper to present genetic mapping research that relied on chromosmal walking. In 1981, C. Weldon Jones and Fortis C. Kafatos published the following two papers, which describe the use of chromosomal walks to map Chorion genes in Silkmoths:

Jones CW, Kafatos FC. (1981) Linkage and evolutionary diversification of developmentally regulated multigene families: tandem arrays of the 401/18 chorion gene pair in silkmoths. Mol Cell Biol. (9):814-28.

Eickbush, TH, Jones CW, and Kafatos FC. 1981. Organization and evolution of the developmentally regulated silkmoth chorion gene families. In D. Brown and C. F. Fox (ed.), Developmental biology using purified genes. ICN-UCLA Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, vol. 23, in press. Academic Press, Inc. New York.

However, in both of these papers, Bender, Spierer, and Hogness are cited as having originally applied the chromosomal walking technique, and all references to the source of the chromosomal walk technique are personal communications from Bender, Spierer, and Hogness.

So there you have it. The innovators of chromosome walking are Welcome Bender, Pierre Spierer, and David S. Hogness. We have some answers in our archives regarding chromosome walking that may be useful to you as well. Take a look at 944514223.Mb and 959099669.Ge.

Thanks for asking an interesting science history question.

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