Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine


During this week before the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockolm and Oslo, December 10, we present the Nobel Prize winners and what they have received the prize for.

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof.They receive the prize for ther work on the transport system of cells is organized. Cells produce molecules and these are sent in small pagages, vesicles, to different parts of the body. The Nobel Laureates discovered how these molecules are transported to the right place at the right time in the cell.

Rothman, Schekman and Südhof have all discovered different parts of the transport system. Schenkman discovered that there is a group of genes which act as traffic leaders and are needed for vesicle traffic. Rothman discovered that the protein machinery that allows the vesicle to fuse with its target to deliver its cargo and Südof revealed how the signals instruct where and when the vesicles are to unload their cargo.

The reason these three discoveries are so important is that they give us insight to disease processes. Transportation is a fundamental process in the cell and defective vesicle transportation is present in various neurological and immunological diseases, as well as in diabetes.

James E. Rothman is born 1950 in Haverhill, Massachusetts, USA. Today he is a Professor in cell biology at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Randy W. Schekman is born 1948 i St Paul, Minnesota, USA. Today he is Professor at the Department of Molecular and Cell biology at University of California in Berkeley. He is alsos an investigator of Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Tomas C. Südhof  is born 1955 in Göttingen, Germany. Today he is Professor of Melecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University.

Some key publications:

Novick, P. & Schekman, R. (1979). Secretion and cell-surface growth are blocked in a temperature-sensitive mutant of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 76(4), pp. 1858-1862.

Balch, W.E., Dunphy, W.G., Braell, W.A. & Rothman, J.E. (1984). Reconstitution of the transport of protein between successive compartments of the Golgi measured by the coupled incorporation of N-acetylglucosamine. Cell, 39, pp. 405-416.

Kaiser, C.A. & Schekman, R. (1990) Distinct sets of SEC genes govern transport vesicle formation and fusion early in the secretory pathway. Cell, 61, pp. 723-733.

Perin, M.S., Fried, V.A., Mignery, G.A., Jahn, R. & Südhof, T.C. (1990). Phospholipid binding by a synaptic vesicle protein homologous to the regulatory region of protein kinase C. Nature, 345, pp. 260-263.

Sollner, T., Whiteheart, W., Brunner, M., Erdjument-Bromage, H., Geromanos, S., Tempst, P. & Rothman, J.E. (1993). SNAP receptor implicated in vesicle targeting and fusion. Nature, 362, pp. 318-324.

Hata, Y., Slaughter, C.A. & Südhof, T.C. (1993). Synaptic vesicle fusion complex contains unc-18 homologue bound to syntaxin. Nature, 366, pp. 347-351.

Press Release from the Nobel Assembly at Karlokinska Institutet.

Pieta Eklund