This week on Throwback Thursday:
We honor the achievements of Richard Scheller and Thomas Südhof, co-winners of the 2013 #Lasker
Basic Medical Research Award.
The duo was recognized for their “discoveries concerning the molecular machinery and regulatory mechanism that underlie the rapid release of neurotransmitters.” Working independently, Scheller and Südhof identified the individual structural components of the cellular machinery responsible for membrane fusion, and then teased out the molecular mechanisms that underlie the process.
In this classic 1994 paper from the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Scheller’s group discovered that the docking proteins Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein-1 (VAMP-1) and synaptophysin directly interacted during the membrane fusion process, primarily at neuronal synapses, a process which they presciently noted “has import at either a spatially or temporally distinct stage of synaptic vesicle trafficking.”
Further elucidating the process of neurotransmitter release, a 2000 Journal of Biological Chemistry paper from Südhof’s group examined the role of vesicle SNARE core complexes in the regulation of synaptic vesicles and uncovered “distinct pathways in the regulation of release for different neurotransmitters.”