2013 Nobel Prize In Physiology Or Medicine | October 14, 2013 Issue - Vol. 91 Issue 41 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 91 Issue 41 | p. 7 | News of The Week
Issue Date: October 14, 2013 | Web Date: October 10, 2013

2013 Nobel Prize In Physiology Or Medicine

Awards: Three U.S. researchers share prize for work on vesicle transport
Department: Science & Technology | Collection: Life Sciences
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: Nobel Prize, physiology, vesicle transport
[+]Enlarge
Rothman
Credit: Yale U
2013 Nobel Laureate in Medicine or Physiology James E. Rothman of Yale University
 
Rothman
Credit: Yale U
[+]Enlarge
Schekman
Credit: U of California, Berkeley
2013 Nobel Laureate in Medicine or Physiology Randy W. Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley
 
Schekman
Credit: U of California, Berkeley
[+]Enlarge
Südhof
Credit: The Lasker Foundation
2013 Nobel Laureate in Medicine or Physiology Thomas C. Südhof of Stanford University
 
Südhof
Credit: The Lasker Foundation

For their discoveries related to the machinery that regulates the cellular transport system, which is critical to cell functioning, James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman, and Thomas C. Südhof were awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Cells move molecules around using tiny membrane-enclosed packages called vesicles. This year’s Nobel Laureates, who will share the $1.2 million prize, discovered how cells get those vesicles to their intended destination at the intended time.

The three winners discovered different aspects of the system. Schekman discovered a set of genes required for vesicle transport. Rothman determined the proteins that allow vesicles to fuse with their targets and thus transfer materials. Südhof discovered the signals that tell vesicles when to release their cargo.

Schekman, a cell biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, developed a genetic screen of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to determine the genes that regulate vesicle trafficking. By using yeast with defective transport systems, he was able to determine where vesicle traffic backed up. With this information, he identified 23 key genes, which can be divided into three classes that control vesicles at the Golgi complex, the endoplasmic reticulum, or the cell surface.

Rothman, a cell biologist at Yale University, determined that proteins known as SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor-activating protein receptor) allow vesicles to fuse with their target membranes. These proteins had already been discovered by others, but their function was unknown. Rothman determined that these proteins interact with high specificity: The SNARE protein on a particular target membrane is able to interact with only one or a few vesicle SNARE proteins.

Südhof, a biochemist at Stanford University, identified the genes that are responsible for controlling the timing of vesicle fusion, particularly those involved in the release of neurotransmitters. He discovered how calcium regulates neurotransmitter release and that two proteins—complexin and synaptotagmin-1—are key players in calcium-mediated vesicle fusion. Synaptotagmin-1 acts as a calcium sensor during synaptic fusion. Complexin acts as a clamp during synaptic fusion to make sure that regulated exocytosis occurs instead of the vesicle simply being incorporated into the cell membrane.

Glitches in vesicle transport are associated generally with some human diseases, such as diabetes. Mutations in genes associated with the protein machinery are involved in specific diseases. For example, mutations in one of the genes are involved in certain forms of epilepsy.

[+]Enlarge
MOLECULAR MACHINERY
Multiple proteins (orange and purple) control fusion of a vesicle (blue sphere) to a cell membrane.
Credit: Nobel Committee
An illustration of vesicle fusion.
 
MOLECULAR MACHINERY
Multiple proteins (orange and purple) control fusion of a vesicle (blue sphere) to a cell membrane.
Credit: Nobel Committee
 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society
Comments
Nzebuike Chukwuka (Fri Oct 11 02:28:04 EDT 2013)
Thanks to these scientists for their physiological discoveries of these cell components' functions.
Mayra  (Tue Oct 15 00:32:41 EDT 2013)
Simply amazing.... Congratulations to the devoted scientist who open the doors to those that wish to follow their steps
Dr Amit Nakanekar (Wed Oct 30 12:22:12 EDT 2013)
Pl mail me full papers of all three of them
Dr Suneet Jindal (Thu Oct 31 04:46:34 EDT 2013)
Hello Sir, First and foremost, congratulations for your work and the achievements. And hoping for the very bright future. I am research fellow, presently have to present the same topic as part of seminar. It will be great if you can mail me the original paper.
Pratima Thakur (Sun Nov 17 07:11:12 EST 2013)
I was very lucky to work on one of the projects by Prof. Thomas C Sudhof and with some of his great Postdoc who are now themselves Professors

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment