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November 13, 1948

Protomorphology: The Principles of Cell Auto-Regulation

JAMA. 1948;138(11):856. doi:10.1001/jama.1948.02900110066033

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In the author's words: "We shall review evidence which has led us to suggest the hypothesis that the genes contain an organized assemblage of smaller units which are the determinants of individual cell morphology. For these units we propose the name 'cytomorphogen.'... We propose that a cytomorphogen is composed in part of still simpler and quite stable units composed principally of minerals which are the determinants for the specificity of the biologic proteins. For these basic determinants we propose the name 'protomorphogen.' We define a protomorphogen as a comparatively stable but complex group of molecules, linked together by the chemical affinities of mineral matter, which by reason of its physical and chemical structure determines the exact plan or pattern by which the component parts of a specific protein are combined."

This mineral " 'skeleton' of the complicated protein molecule" is supposed to retain its structural integrity and specificity after ashing of