The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Edmond H. Fischer

Protein cross-talk to integrate intracellular signals

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Nobel Laureate Edmond H. Fischer
University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Professor Edmond H. Fischer was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1992 together with Edwin G. Krebs for the discovery of reversible protein phosphorylation as a biological regulatory mechanism.

A multitude of proteins participate in a complex interplay in a cell. They are the tools of the living organism, regulating its reactions and activities. For example, proteins maintain the metabolic flux, dictate growth and cellular division, release hormones, and mediate muscular work. Protein interactions are strictly controlled. One of the most important regulatory mechanisms is reversible protein phosphorylation. This means that enzymes phosphorylate proteins by covalently attaching one or several phosphate groups to the protein or by removing them (dephosphorylation). Both these enzymatic processes are in turn regulated, often in several steps, allowing amplification and fine control. The American biochemists Edmond Fischer and Edwin Krebs purified and characterized the first enzyme of this type - glycogen phosphorylase-B. Their fundamental finding initiated a research area which today is one of the most active and wide-ranging.

Step by step, it has become evident that protein phosphorylation constitutes a fundamental mechanism, influencing all cellular functions. Reversible protein phosphorylation is responsible for regulation of processes as diverse as mobilization of glucose from glycogen, prevention of transplant rejection by cyclosporin, and development of a cancer form like chronic myeloic leukemia as well as a large number of other cellular processes.

Nobel Internet Archive: http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1992/index.html