Definition of Hershey-Chase experiment
Hershey-Chase experiment: An extraordinarily important experiment in 1952 that helped to convince the world that DNA was the genetic material. Alfred Hershey (1908-1997) and his assistant Martha Chase (1923-2003) at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory showed that the DNA, not the protein, of the phage virus contains the phage genes. After a phage particle attaches to a bacterium, its DNA enters through a tiny hole while its protein coat remains outside. Key to the success of the experiment was showing that viral infection was unaffected by violent agitation in a kitchen blender (a Waring Blendor) which removed the empty viral protein shells from the bacterial surface. The Hershey-Chase experiment became known as the "blender experiment."
Alfred D. Hershey won a Nobel Prize for his insights into the nature of viruses in 1969, along with Max Delbruck and Salvador Luria. In a 1997 memoriam to Hersey, James Watson wrote that "the Hershey-Chase experiment had a much broader impact than most confirmatory announcements and made me ever more certain that finding the three-dimensional structure of DNA was biology's next important objective. The finding of the double helix by Francis Crick and me came only 11 months after my receipt of a long Hershey letter describing his blender experiment results."
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012
Back to MedTerms online medical dictionary A-Z List
Need help identifying pills and medications?
- Allergic Skin Disorders
- Bacterial Skin Diseases
- Bites and Infestations
- Diseases of Pigment
- Fungal Skin Diseases
- Medical Anatomy and Illustrations
- Noncancerous, Precancerous & Cancerous Tumors
- Oral Health Conditions
- Papules, Scales, Plaques and Eruptions
- Scalp, Hair and Nails
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- Vascular, Lymphatic and Systemic Conditions
- Viral Skin Diseases
- Additional Skin Conditions