Axel and Buck win the Nobel Prize

The announcement is on the Nobel site. Carl Zimmer has the summary.

Axel's and Buck's work was on odorant receptors, and what they accomplished was to demonstrate on the molecular level how your nose works. It's very nifty stuff from a physiological standpoint, showing how an olfactory signal is transduced via G protein coupled receptors into a change in cyclic AMP levels, which then opened membrane channels to change the electrical potential of the cell. It also turned out to have evolutionary significance, because what they discovered was a huge gene family; every different class of odorant has its own unique receptor molecule, and roughly 3% of our genome is dedicated to this one task that we take for granted. We aren't even particularly well endowed with odorant receptors, and our genome is further riddled with broken odorant receptor pseudogenes, relics of the more discerning noses of our distant ancestors.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on October 4, 2004 9:39 AM.

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