Spirin, Aleksandr Sergeevich
Born Sept. 4, 1931, in the settlement of Imeni Kalinina, now the city of Kaliningrad, Moscow Oblast. Soviet biochemist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1970; corresponding member, 1966).
In 1954, Spirin graduated from Moscow State University, where he was a student of A. N. Belozerskii. In 1962 he became head of a laboratory at the A. N. Bakh Institute of Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. He became a professor in the subdepartment of plant biochemistry at Moscow State University in 1964 and head of the subdepartment in 1973. In 1967, Spirin organized and became head of the Institute of Protein of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, located in Pushchino, Moscow Oblast.
Spirin’s main research has centered on the biochemistry of nucleic acids and the biosynthesis of proteins. In 1957, working with Belozerskii, Spirin carried out a systematic comparative analysis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) in bacteria and predicted the existence of messenger RNA. In the years 1959–61 he provided the first qualitative description of the macromolecular structure of high-polymer RNA. He established the structural transformations of ribosomes (unfolding into ribo-nucleoprotein strands) and, in 1963, formulated a basic principle of ribosome structure. In the years 1963–66, Spirin discovered the possibility of an artificial reconstruction (self-assembly) of ribosomes. He discovered informosomes in 1964 and proposed a model describing the molecular mechanism governing the operation of ribosomes in protein biosynthesis in 1968. Working with L. P. Gavrilova, Spirin demonstrated experimentally the possibility of protein biosynthesis in structurally modified ribosomes outside the cell (nonenzymatic translation, 1970–74).
Spirin received the Lenin Prize in 1976, and he has been awarded the Order of Lenin. In 1969 he received the Hans Krebs Medal of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies, and in 1972, an honorary doctorate from the University of Granada. Spirin was elected a member of the Leopoldina German Academy of Naturalists in 1974.
WORKSNekotorye problemy makromolekuliarnoi struktury ribonukleinovykh kislot. Moscow, 1963.
Ribonukleinovye kisloty (Sostav, stroenie i biologicheskaia rol’). Moscow, 1964.
Ribosoma, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1971. (With L. P. Gavrilova.)