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Nobel Prize Awarded to Randy W. Schekman, James E. Rothman, and Thomas C. Südhof

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Each year, The Nobel Assembly in Karolinska Institutet distributes various Noble Prizes to recipients who have demonstrated a monumental contribution to the sciences. In 2013, the 50 professors that constitute the Nobel Assembly awarded The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Randy W. Schekman, James E. Rothman, and Thomas C. Südhof for their contribution in uncovering the details of vesicle transport within a cell. More specifically, these scientists have elaborated on the knowledge of how cargo is delivered to the correct place within a eukaryotic cell at the correct time.

The compartmentalized eukaryotic cell must retain the ability to ensure that correct vesicles are shipped to the required destination at appropriate times.
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In these mutant yeast cells, the typical vesicle transport system was abnormal, which allowed detection of specific genes that were related to these mutations. These screenings eventually led to the identification of twenty-three separate genes that could be classified into three groups based on their effects on membranes involved in traffic. These membranes include the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi Apparatus, and the plasma membrane (Novick and Schekman, 1979).

James Rothman dissected the transport mechanism by purifying and identifying proteins used in transport. The NSF, SNAP and SNARE proteins act as docking sites to enable vesicles to fuse to specific target membranes. This explains the precision of transport; the proteins only combined with certain cargo. The ability to purify the NSF protein was made possible by the identification of the VSV-G protein. The VSV-G protein is labeled by a sugar when it comes in contact with the Golgi Apparatus, simplifying documentation. Genes code for proteins used in fusion, exemplified by how the sec18 gene relates to NSF. Sec17 relates to the SNAP protein in a similar manner. The discovery of the SNAP protein allowed for the revelation of SNARE proteins found in brain tissue. SNARE proteins are a gateway to the fusion and docking of vesicles in a very specific manner: only an exclusive number of target SNAREs (t-SNAREs) would bind to specific vesicle SNAREs, or v-SNAREs
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