Monday, October 7, 2013

Winners of The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Announced.

The Nobel Assembly decided to jointly award the 2013 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine to Dr.'s James E. Rothman, Randy W. Scheckman and Thomas C. Südhof 'for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells'. Vesicles are the sub-cellular packages surrounded by membranes that are responsible moving molecules, such as hormones, enzymes or neurotransmitters which are produced by cells, from their site of production to the their eventual release either inside of outside of the cell. Each of the Nobel Laureates was instrumental in uncovering the molecular principles that govern the appropriate delivery of these packages.

Exocytosis, one of the possible endpoints of vesicular
trafficking,  is the process by which a cell directs secretory
vesicles to the cell membrane. These membrane-bound
vesicles contain soluble proteins to be secreted to the
extracellular environment, as well as membrane proteins
and lipids that are sent to become components of the
cell membrane.
by Mariana Ruiz
Dr. Südhof, a German born scientist, currently a Howard Hughes investigator and Professor at Stanford University, revealed how signals precisely regulate the release of cargo from vesicles. Dr Scheckman, is also a Howard Hughes and is a Professor at University of California at Berkley. His contribution was the discovery of a set of genes that are required for the cargo carrying vesicles to move through the cell. Meanwhile, Dr. Rothman, currently a Professor and Chariman of the Department of Biology at Yale, discovered the protein-protein interactions necessary for vesicles to fuse with their correct targets.

Without the appropriate function of vesicle transport a variety of physiological processes can be disrupted such as the release of hormones and cytokines. The result of these disruptions are a variety of disease states such as diabetes as well as neurological and immunological disorders. The contributions of these scientists have expanded our understanding of a vital process and are clearly worthy of the honor that is The Noble Prize!

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