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A Quantitative X-Ray Study of Alpha-Beta Transformation in Keratin


THE first X-ray diffraction studies of the α–β transformation in keratin were made by Herzog and Jancke1 and Astbury and Street2. Since then it has occupied a pivotal position in all attempts to determine the molecular structure of proteins. Recently, Bendit3 has reported the variation of the peak intensity of the 5.1 A., 4.6 A. and 9.8 A. reflexions against percentage extension for Lincoln wool and concluded therefrom that Astbury's hypothesis of a molecular transformation based on a 1:1 correspondence of the intensity variation of the first two reflexions is not tenable. However, no quantitative X-ray study of the degree of order introduced with extension has been yet reported.

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  1. 1

    Herzog, R. O., and Jancke, W., “Festschrift der Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft” (1921).

  2. 2

    Astbury, W. T., and Street, A., Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., A, 230, 75 (1932).

  3. 3

    Bendit, E. G., Nature, 179, 535 (1957).

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