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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday's Molecule #126: Winner

The molecules are: BMPR = Bone morphogenic bone receptor; BMP4 = Bone morphogenetic protein 4, CHD = Chordin, TGS = twisted gastrulation. These molecules play an important role in regulating development in the embryos of the amphibian (frog) Xenopus laevis.

BMP binds to its receptor (BMPR) on certain cells and acts as a signal leading to induction of a number of developmental genes. Most of them are involved in establishing dorsal-ventral polarity (the back and belly of the the tadpole). Chordin is an antagonist of BMP4 and it is secreted by another group of cells in the early embryo to inhibit the action of BMP4.

The discovery of specific cells that secreted morhogenic factors is mostly due to the pioneering work of Hans Spemann, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1935. This marked a turning point in the history of developmental biology because it signaled the transition from a descriptive science to an experimental/molecular/genetic science.

We have a single winner this week. It's Ian Clarke of New England Biolabs Canada in Pickering ON, Canada.

Today's molecule is actually four molecules. Your task is to identify the four molecules shown in the cartoon. Explain what they are doing in the figure. Be sure to name the species or you won't get credit for a correct answer.

These molecules are directly connected to one of the most significant Nobel Prizes in the 20th century. The Nobel Laureate didn't know the names of these molecules but that doesn't diminish the achievement. Identify the Nobel Laureate and the connection between Monday's Molecules and the work for which the prize was awarded.

The first person to identify all four molecules and the Nobel Laureate, wins a free lunch at the Faculty Club. Previous winners are ineligible for six weeks from the time they first won the prize. Please note the change in the length of time you are ineligible. The idea is to give more more people a chance to win.

There are eight ineligible candidates for this week's reward: Dima Klenchin of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Adam Santoro of the University of Toronto., Michael Clarkson of Waltham MA (USA), Òscar Reig of Barcelona, Maria Altshuler of the University of Toronto, Mike Fraser of the University of Toronto, Jaseon Oakley of the University of Toronto, and Bill Chaney of the University of Nebraska.

Bill Chaney has donated his free lunch to a deserving undergraduate so I'm going to continue to award an additional free lunch to the first undergraduate student who can accept it. Please indicate in your email message whether you are an undergraduate and whether you can make it for lunch.


Nobel Laureates
Send your guess to Sandwalk (sandwalk (at) and I'll pick the first email message that correctly identifies the molecule(s) and names the Nobel Laureate(s). Note that I'm not going to repeat Nobel Prizes so you might want to check the list of previous Sandwalk postings by clicking on the link in the theme box.

Correct responses will be posted tomorrow.

Comments will be blocked for 24 hours. Comments are allowed.

[Image Credit: De Robertis, E.M. and Kuroda, H. (2004)]

1 comment :

  1. Someone should change the Wikipedia article then:

    "Bone morphogenetic protein 4, also known as BMP4, is a human gene."