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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Monday's Molecule #129: Winner

The molecule is the Src protein tyrosine kinase from chicken (Gallus gallus). The scr gene is a proto-oncogene, meaning that is the normal version of an oncogene, or a cancer-causing gene. Mutant alleles of proto-oncogenes are responsible for many types of cancer.

A highly derived version of the normal src gene (v-src) is present in strains of the chicken Rous sarcoma virus discovered by Payton Rous in 1911. RSV causes cancer in chickens and it was the first cancer-causing virus to be identified.

It wasn't until the 1970's that the gene responsible for the cancer was identified and recognized as a derivative of a normal cellular gene involved in signal transduction and regulation of cell growth. Michael Bishop and Harold Varmus received the Nobel Prize for identifying the src gene as a proto-oncogene. They are this week's Nobel Laureates.

Many people got the right answer but the first one was Cody Cobb, soon to be a graduate student at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He will be joining me for lunch in a week or two.

Today's molecule is very famous so you aren't going to get any hints other than the fact it's from the species Gallus gallus

You need to name the molecule, identify its function, and explain why it is so famous. That will lead you to one or more Nobel Laureates whose Nobel Prize was directly related to this protein and, more importantly, its gene.

The first person to identify the molecule and the Nobel Laureate(s), wins a free lunch. Previous winners are ineligible for six weeks from the time they first won the prize.

There are seven ineligible candidates for this week's reward: Mike Fraser of the University of Toronto, Jason Oakley of the University of Toronto, Bill Chaney of the University of Nebraska, Ian Clarke of New England Biolabs Canada in Pickering ON, Canada. Dima Klenchin of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Dara Gilbert of the University of Waterloo, and Anne Johnson of Ryerson University.

I have an extra free lunch for a deserving undergraduate so I'm going to continue to award an additional prize 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 now open.

The figure is from Williams et al. (1997).

Williams, J.C., Weijland, A., Gonfloni, S., Thompson, A., Courtneidge, S.A., Superti-Furga, G., Wierenga, R.K. (1997) The 2.35 A crystal structure of the inactivated form of chicken Src: a dynamic molecule with multiple regulatory interactions. J. Mol. Biol. 274:757-75. [PubMed] [doi:10.1006/jmbi.1997.1426]

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