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Regulatory mechanism in cells

The 1992 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Edmond H. Fischer and Edwin G. Krebs for their discovery of the role of protein phosphorylation in controlling enzymes that regulate our cells.

In the 1950s, Edmond H. Fischer and Edwin G. Krebs used rabbit and mouse muscle cells to investigate the function of an enzyme known to be involved in muscle contraction. They were interested in how this enzyme was regulated, and they identified two enzymes that were involved in the process. A protein kinase transfers a phosphate group to the muscle-contraction-enzyme, while a phosphatase removes it. This phosphorylation and de-phosphorylation influences the shape and charge of the enzymes, and therefore their activity.

Thanks to Fischer and Krebs’ pioneering work, we now know that protein phosphorylation is immensely important in regulating the functions of our cells. It plays a part not only in muscle contraction, but also in immune responses, cell growth and cancer progression, and many drugs that specifically target protein phosphorylation have now been developed.


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