ASBMB Nobel Prize Winners

2009 - Thomas A. Steitz

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2009 Steitz

Thomas A. Steitz was awarded one-third of Nobel Prize in chemistry for his studies on the structure and function of the ribosome, a complex of RNA and protein that translates the genetic code into functioning proteins. Steitz and his fellow awardees, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Ada E. Yonath, used X-ray crystallography to determine the three-dimensional structure of the complex. The groundwork for solving the structure of the ribosome was laid by Yonath in the 1980s when she obtained robust crystals of the ribosomal subunits. Steitz and Ramakrishnan followed this in the 1990s by solving low- and middle-resolution structures of the ribosomal subunits. Finally, in 2000, the scientists published high-resolution structures of parts of the ribosome and later followed up with models that show how different antibiotics bind to the complex.