© WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
October 06, 2004
Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2004 to A. Ciechanover, A. Hershko, and I. Rose
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2004 for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation jointly to Aaron Ciechanover (Technion, Haifa, Israel), Avram Hershko (Technion, Haifa, Israel), and Irwin A. Rose (University of California, Irvine, USA).
Ciechanover, Hershko, and Rose have brought us to realize that the cell functions as a highly-efficient checking station where proteins are built up and broken down at a furious rate. The degradation is not indiscriminate but takes place through a process that is controlled in detail so that the proteins to be broken down at any given moment are given a molecular label, ubiquitin. This fastens to the protein to be destroyed, accompanies it to the proteasome where it is recognised as the key in a lock, and signals that a protein is on the way for disassembly. Shortly before the protein is squeezed into the proteasome, its ubiquitin label is disconnected for re-use. Thanks to the work of the three Laureates it is now possible to understand at molecular level how the cell controls a number of central processes by breaking down certain proteins and not others.
See for example: "Ubiquitin-mediated degradation of cellular proteins in health and disease" by A. Ciechanover and A. L. Schwartz, or "Ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis: biological regulation via destruction" by A. Ciechanover, A. Orian, and A. L. Schwartz.