Tom Steitz passes away

  • #1
TeethWhitener
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Nobel Laureate Tom Steitz (Chemistry, 2009) passed away a few days ago:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/obituaries/thomas-a-steitz-dead.html
He was one of several scientists responsible for elucidating the structure of the ribosome, which is responsible for protein synthesis in cells.
 

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  • #2
Ygggdrasil
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Very sad news. In addition to the ribosome, Steitz was helped solve the structure of a number of other important biomolecular complexes involved in DNA replication, transcription, and translation (the "central dogma" of biology). His wife, Joan Steitz, was recently awarded the Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/show/leadership-rna-biology-and-scientific-mentorship/

I remember reading one memorable paper from his lab in which they solved the structure of fatty acid synthetase (FAS), a large macromolecular complex involved in lipid metabolism. While scientists had been working on solving the structure since the 1970s, (finally achieving a low-resolution crystal structure in 2006), Steitz's group came across the enzyme in an unusual way:
We have now determined the atomic structure of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae FAS derived from two crystal forms of the enzyme that were obtained by a fortuitous accident. While attempting to crystallize the yeast 40S ribosomal subunit, we obtained instead these crystals of FAS, which cosediments at 40S with the small ribosomal subunit.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867407003297

While many crystallographers can spend decades trying to get crystals of the protein they are studying, Steitz can get crystals by accident!
 
  • #3
Sanborn Chase
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What we call accident is usually the order of a higher level.
 

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