Monday, January 31, 2011

Israel 2011 International Year of Chemistry - The Ribosome & The Ubiquitin

The Israel Post released 2 stamps featuring protein structures on 4 January 2011 to ring in 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry. The 4.20-shekel stamp features the ubiquitin, a protein destructor and the 6.10-shekel stamp features the Ribosome, a protein constructor.

For the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of the Israel Institute of Technology, and Irwin Rose of the University of California, Irvine, USA, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2004. Ubiquitin serves as a molecular label that fastens itself to the protein destined to be destroyed; the proteins marked for death are fed to the proteasome for disassembly. Before the protein is squeezed into the proteasome for destruction, the ubiquitin label is removed for re-use.

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009 was awarded to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of Cambridge, UK, Thomas A. Steitz of Yale University in the USA, and Ada E. Yonath of Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, for their work on the molecular 3D structure of the ribosome, through X-ray crystallography, and showing how it functions at the atomic level, manufacturing proteins giving life to all living organisms.