Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012 on G-protein-coupled receptors

by GNOBB on October 11, 2012

Dhaka 11th October, ’12. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2012 to Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka for their studies on G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). The molecules (GPCRs) are embedded in the membrane of cells and cause significant chemical cascades when a target molecule attaches to them. That target could be anything from a hormone such as adrenaline to neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Lefkowitz fundamentally defined the field of receptor biology through his work with GPCRs. He started investigating the receptors by following the movement of radioactive isotopes attached to hormones within cells in the laboratory, trying to track down how signals get through cell membranes. He managed to unveil several receptors, among those a receptor for adrenalin: β-adrenergic receptor. His team of researchers extracted the receptor from its hiding place in the cell wall and gained an initial understanding on its working mechanisms. On the other hand, Dr. Kobilka joined the Lefkowitz’s research team in the 1980s, accepted the challenge to isolate the gene that codes for the β-adrenergic receptor from the gigantic human genome. His creative approach allowed him to attain his goal. When the researchers analyzed the gene, they discovered that the receptor was similar to one in the eye that captures light. They realized that there is a whole family of receptors that look similar and function in the same manner. Furthermore, in 2011, Kobilka achieved another breakthrough. He and his research team captured an image of the β-adrenergic receptor at the exact moment that it is activated by a hormone and sends a signal into the cell. Apparently, this ground-breaking work spanning genetics and biochemistry has laid the basis for much of our understanding of modern pharmacology as well as how cells in different parts of living organisms can react differently to external stimulation. [summarized by a graduate student of DBMB, DU]

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Gnobb Office October 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

While complimenting Razzaque Prof. Zeba Seraj inquired about the Laboratory where the work was done and the number of years it took to accomplish the feat leading to the winning of Nobel Prize. The reply of Samsad is reproduced here: Prof. Robert Lefkowitz started his investigation on GPCRs in 1968 at the National Institutes of Health. He was appointed as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center in 1973 and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) based in Duke University in 1976. After that , Brian K. Kobilka joined Lefkowitz’s Lab in the 1980s at HHMI as a Postdoc researcher.There he isolated the gene encoding the beta-adrenergic receptor. In 2011, Kobilka made another breakthrough at the department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology and medicine in Stanford University. He and his research team captured an image of the beta-adrenergic receptor at the exact moment during its activation by a hormone. In a word, it took about 43 years to accomplish the feat leading to the award of joint Nobel Prize.

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