G-protein-coupled receptors allow cells to sense light, flavour, and odour, and receive signals from hormones and neurotransmitters. Their discovery was a very important breakthrough and certainly deserves the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
"Half of all medications achieve their effect through G-protein-coupled receptors”, said Professor David Phillips, Immediate Past-President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, “it is no surprise that Lefkowitz and Kobilka have been awarded this year's Nobel Prize because these receptors have such a vital implication for human health."
Listen to this interview with Professor David Phillips about Robert Lefkowitz’s and Brian Kobilka’s work."It's very interesting to see that both the 2012 Nobel Prizes for Chemistry and Medicine have been awarded to cell biologists. This shows what an important role chemistry has to play in cell biology studies” said Professor David Phillips.
"G-protein-coupled receptors are ubiquitous in the function of cells in the body and help us to sense light, flavour and odour. They are also responsible for the human body's reactions to chemicals in the body such as adrenaline, histamine, dopamine and serotonin - which are associated with medical conditions such as allergies, depression and Parkinson's disease”.
Professor Phillips continued saying that “before Robert Lefkowitz identified them and, together with Brian Kobilka determined how they work, nobody even knew they existed. The key to understanding this family of proteins has been the determination of their molecular structure.”
Robert Lefkowitz has written a historical perspective on G-protein-coupled receptors for an RSC book, G Protein-Coupled Receptors: From Structure to Function, which is part of the RSC Drug Discovery Series.
Read more about the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on the articles by Chemistry World, The Guardian, The New York Times and New Scientist.