In Stockholm, Sweden the Nobel Prize Committee announced on Monday that three research scientists, James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Südhof, have been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their roles in unmasking the method by which cells bundle and transport materials needed at the exact time needed.
The committee remarked in the press release, “Molecules are transported around the cell in small packages called vesicles. The three Nobel Laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell.”
The three scientists awarded the prize each solved a piece of the puzzle, building upon one another’s work.
Working with cells from yeasts, Dr. Schekman discovered that genes were responsible for controlling the transport system of vesicles in cells and he also identified the specific genes involved.
Working with cells from mammals, Dr. Rothman discovered proteins on the vesicles which make the transfer of molecules possible, with specific proteins working like keys to specific locations. These proteins matched some of the genes discovered by Schekman. According to the Nobel press release, these matches illustrated “an ancient evolutionary origin of the transport system. Collectively, they mapped critical components of the cell´s transport machinery.”
Studying nerve cells, Dr. Südhof discovered that nerve cells communicate the exact timing of the release of the contents of the vesicles by releasing calcium ions which allow the proteins to bind with the membranes of the nerve cells. After binding occurs the contents of the vesicle are released into the cell.
Randy Schekman is presently a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkley and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
James Rothman is presently a professor of biology as well the chairman of the Biology Department at Yale University.
Thomas Südhof is presently a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, literature and economics will be announced on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and next Monday, respectively. The Nobel Peace Prize winner will be announced on Friday.
The prizes, except for the peace prize, will be awarded on Dec. 10, 2013 in Stockholm. The peace prize will be awarded on Dec. 10, 2013 in Oslo, Norway.
"The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine - Press Release". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 7 Oct 2013. <www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2013/press.html>