The Discovery of Vesicle Transportation System Essay

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On October 7th 2013, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Sudhof for “their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells”. Before this research, knowledge about the vesicle transportation system that eukaryotic cells utilized was essentially limited to what could be observed, including its various tasks and actions and its huge significance in cell survival. The question that remained unanswered, however; was exactly how this system was able to perform and control its tasks with such efficiency and precision throughout the cell body and beyond. Therefore, Rothman,…show more content…
This sophisticated intracellular setup has understandingly raised questions about its mechanics and remained an enigma until the three Nobel Laureates presented their discoveries.
Randy Schekman was able to identify the genes that controlled vesicle trafficking through the use of yeast cells and it’s genetics as a model. In order to identify which genes participate in vesicle transportation, Schekman used genetic screening, which is a process where mutant organisms are created and isolated based on the desired phenotype to determine the presence of a gene associated with a disorder. Through this genetic screening, Randy Schekman observed mutated yeast cells and isolated those with flawed vesicle transport systems. He observed that these cells experienced congestion of vesicles in certain areas of the cell, specifically in the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi complex and the cell surface. Therefore he was able to accredit control of vesicle trafficking to the twenty-three specific genes he later identified and classified in relationship to the location of the vesicle blocks. James Rothman discovered how vesicles are able to fuse with its target membrane when transporting molecules by a protein complex. Rothman was able to arrive to this discovery through the use of his work with a specific viral protein. He used a system where infected cells would produce the
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