This year's Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology
is being awarded to Drs. James E. Rothman from Yale University, Randy W.
Schekman from the University of California and Thomas C. Sudhof from Stanford
University, reveals a press release by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The
work done by these scientists helped to understand how molecules produced by
certain cells are released and transported to other cells.
Cells produce certain substances packed in small
bubbles called vesicles
. For example, the pancreatic cells produce insulin
packed in vesicles that is released into the blood. Nerve cells
neurotransmitters in similar vesicles. These vesicles have to be transported to
other specific cells where they can release these molecules so that they can
bring about their action.
The honored scientists were responsible for decoding
the mechanism of transport and release of substances from the vesicles.
Dr Randy Schekman studied the vesicle transport in
yeast and discovered three classes of genes responsible in controlling the
transport of vesicles to different compartments within the cell and to the cell
Once the vesicle reaches its target cell, there are
which enable it to dock on this cell and fuse with the cell
membrane of the target cell. Dr James Rothman discovered the protein complex
that brings about this docking and fusion at specific sites during his studies
on mammalian cells.
Dr Thomas Südhof studied the transmission of signals
among nerve cells via neurotransmitters and identified proteins that bring
about vesicle fusion mediated by calcium ions. His work enabled us to
understand how the neurotransmitters are released from vesicles when directed
to and at the right time.
Defects in the vesicle transport are responsible for a number of disease
conditions including diabetes
. The mechanisms as explained by these scientists
will help in further research of such disease conditions.