Monday, May 21, 2007

Günter Blobel

Cellular biologist Günter Blobel, M.D., Ph.D., was born on May 21, 1936 in Waltersdorf, Germany. In 1945 Blobel and his family fled their home in what was the eastern part of Germany to escape from the advancing Russian Red Army and settled in the town of Freiberg in East Germany. Günter Blobel graduated high school in 1954 and left Freiberg to settle in Frankfurt, West Germany after he had been denied access to a university education in East Germany.1

Blobel discovered a link between what is known as an SRM- signal recognition particle- and an organelle known as the endoplasmic reticulum. This helped establish what is called a cellular zip code system enabling the routing of up to a billion proteins within a cell to their proper locations. These routing locations include structures called organelles of which the endoplasmic reticulum is one.

"Each newly made protein has an organelle-specific address, a stretch of the protein referred to as a signal sequence that is recognized by receptors on an organelle's surface. Blobel and his colleagues also showed that, for at least one organelle called the endoplasmic reticulum, the binding of the signal sequence to its receptor opens a watery channel in the membrane through which the protein can travel."2

1. Günter Blobel The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1999; http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1999/blobel-autobio.html

2. Rockefeller University News; http://www.rockefeller.edu/pubinfo/blobelbio.php

Other References:

3. Gunter Blobel, 1999 Nobel Prize Laureate in Physiology/Medicine and Pioneer in Protein Targeting Within/out of the Cell by Michael Vishnevetsky Midwood High School at Brooklyn College, Brooklyn; http://www.nyas.org/programs/nobel/essay3.html

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