Born: 16 July 1926, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Died: 3 June 2015, Deerfield, MA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation"
Prize share: 1/3
An important process in our cells is the production of proteins. But proteins must also be broken down. At the beginning of the 1980s, Irwin Rose, Aaron Ciechanover, and Avram Hershko showed that one protein, ubiquitin, has a special mission in this context. When it is time for a protein to be broken down, a ubiquitin molecule attaches itself to the protein. The ubiquitin molecule serves as a key that enters a proteasome, a protein complex that divides the protein into smaller pieces. These can be used in the construction of other substances in the cell.