(1922-) US biochemist who established the existence of transfer RNA (tRNA) and its function. For this work he shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
Born in Urbana, Illinois, Holley studied at the University of Illinois and at Cornell. He was on the staff at Cornell from 1948, becoming professor 1962. In 1966 he moved to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California.
Holley's early work at the New York State Agricultural Experimental Station at Cornell concerned plant hormones, the volatile constituents of fruits, the nitrogen metabolism of plants, and peptide synthesis. At the Salk Institute he began to study the factors that influence growth in cultured mammalian cells.
At Cornell he obtained evidence for the role of tRNAs as acceptors of activated amino acids. In 1958, he succeeded in isolating the alanine-, tyrosine- and valene-specific tRNAs from baker's yeast, and eventually Holley and his colleagues succeeded in solving the entire nucleotide sequence of this RNA.
Village in New York (USA).