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Biozentrum Lectures 2009

Alternative Zippering as an On-Off Switch for SNARE-mediated Membrane Fusion in Synaptic Transmission and Hormonal Secretion

James E. Rothman, Chairman, Department of Cell Biology, Professor, Department of Chemistry Yale University
September 22, 2009, Time: 16:00, Hörsaal 1, Pharmazentrum, Klingelbergstrasse 50-70, Basel

Intracellular membrane fusion is catalyzed by the zippering of SNARE proteins into helical bundles (termed trans-SNARE complexes, or SNAREpins) between membranes, forcing their bilayers together. Because SNARE complex assembly is strongly favored energetically, fusion will occur spontaneously in the absence of additional proteins that may be provided to prevent this from happening. Understanding how fusion is clamped, and how clamps are released is central to elucidating how the release of hormones and neurotransmitters is regulated physiologically.

Dr. James Rothman is the Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology at Yale University. Dr. Rothman has been a pioneer and leader in the field of cell biology whee he made critical con-tributions to the identification of the cellular mechanisms ofintracellular protein transport and membrane fusion. He and his colleagues devised some of the first cell-fee in vitro assays to reconstitute protein transport along the secretory pathway of mammalian cells. These studies let to the discovery of several key components of the cellular machinery underlying membrane fusion and regulated secretion. Dr. Rothman’s contributions to science have been recognized with many of the most prestigious awards, including The Feodor Lynen Award (1997), The Otto-Warburg Medal (2001), The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (2002), and  The Lasker Basic Research Award (2002).Dr. Rothman received his Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from Harvard Medical School under the mentorship of Dr. E.P. Kennedy in 1976. He was a postdoc-toral fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Dr. H.F. Lodish where he studied membrane protein biogenesis and glycosylation. He has held faculty positions at Stanford University, Princeton University, The Memorial Sloan-Ketter-ing Institute, and Columbia University. Since 2008 he is the Professor and Chair-man of Cell Biology, Professor of Chemistry, and the Executive Director of the Yale Center for High Throughput Cell Biology at Yale University, New Haven, USA.