September 2010

Richard Hanson: A Maestro of Metabolism

And, he definitely will keep on teaching for as long as he is able; “I think Hanson could give up doing research,” Merrick says, “but you would have to drag him kicking and screaming out of that classroom before he’d ever stop.”

The education won’t be confined to the students in his biochemistry class. Given his scientific expertise, he’s going to act as a mentor-of-sorts to other scientists who are interested in the “new metabolism.”

“Following the rise of molecular biology and genomics, a lot of researchers veered toward what they saw as a more exciting area of science,” he explains. “And now, even though we have a revival of interest in metabolism, we have a ‘lost generation’ of scientists who perhaps truly don’t understand many of the fundamentals of metabolism.”

And, although today’s scientists typically are focused on broader scientific queries than just a single enzyme or pathway, Hanson notes that PEPCK makes a fine ambassador to new science.

“Through all of our work, we’ve shown that PEPCK is a great example of a tightly regulated gene with tissue-specific activity, as well as differing developmental expression patterns,” he says. “And, there are still many unanswered questions regarding its function.”

“So, even though it’s been around for a while, like me, I think PEPCK is a very modern and appealing protein.”




• Hanson, R. W. (2009) A Perspective on the Biology of Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase 55 Years after Its Discovery. J. Biol. Chem. 284, 27021 – 27023.
• Hakimi, P. Yang, J., Casadesus, G., Massillon, D., Tolentino-Silva, F., Nye, C. K., Cabrera, M. E., Hagen, D. R., Utter, C. B., Baghdy, Y., Johnson, D. H., Wilson, D. L., Kirwan, J. P., Kalhan, S. C., and Hanson, R. W. (2007) Overexpression of the Cytosolic Form of Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (GTP) in Skeletal Muscle Repatterns Energy Metabolism in the Mouse. J. Biol. Chem. 282, 32844 – 32855.
• Hanson, R. W. (2005) Metabolism in the Era of Molecular Biology. J. Biol. Chem. 280, 1705 – 1715.
• Hod, Y., Yoo-Warren, H., and Hanson, R. W. (1984) The Gene Encoding the Cytosolic Form of Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (GTP) from the Chicken. J. Biol. Chem. 259, 15609 – 15614.
• Reshef, L., Hanson, R. W., and Ballard, F. J. (1969) Glyceride-Glycerol Synthesis from Pyruvate: Adaptive Changes in Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase and Pyruvate Carboxylase in Adipose Tissue and Liver. J. Biol. Chem. 244, 1994 – 2001.
• Bernfeld, P., Nisselbaum, J. S., Berkeley, B. J., and Hanson, R. W. (1960) The Influence of Chemical and Physicochemical Nature of Macromolecular Polyanions on Their Interaction with Human Serum β-Lipoproteins. J. Biol. Chem. 235, 2852 – 2859.

Nick Zagorski ( is a science writer at ASBMB.

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