Protein tyrosine phosphatases to be topic of ASBMB-Merck Award lecture


Bethesda, Maryland Jack E. Dixon, Professor and Dean of Scientific Affairs at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has been selected to receive the 2005 ASBMB-Merck Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to research in biochemistry and molecular biology. Dr. Dixon will present his award lecture on protein tyrosine phosphatases at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, April 3 at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Annual Meeting in San Diego.

The cell's ability to respond to its extracellular environment depends on a complex, highly organized series of events referred to as cellular signaling. These events regulate fundamental cellular responses, the loss of which can lead the development of disease.

The protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) are a diverse group of enzymes that participate in cellular signaling by regulating the reversible addition of phosphate to the tyrosine residues in proteins. All members of the PTP family contain a highly conserved motif in their active sites. Dr. Dixon's laboratory has recently identified 107 members of this family in the human genome. The PTP superfamily enzymes participate in a wide variety of cellular processes, including growth, metabolism, differentiation, motility, and programmed cell death. Bacteria also have proteins that contain the PTP active site motif, and these proteins play key roles in bacterial pathogenesis.

Recent observations have shown that PTPs can also function as tumor suppressor genes. The PTEN gene, which is among the most commonly mutated tumor suppressor genes in human cancer, is a member of the PTP superfamily. Like many other tumor suppressors, PTEN targets proteins in signaling pathways that regulate cell growth and apoptosis.

Dr. Dixon has brought a strong chemical background and expertise in molecular biology and molecular genetics to his research investigations. Early in his career, he was a leader in research on the biosynthesis and posttranslational processing of polypeptide hormones. He adopted the tools of molecular biology as they became available in the late 1970's, and his laboratory was among the first to use a synthetic oligonucleotide to identify and clone cDNAs encoding peptide hormones such as somatostatin, cholecystokinin, and neuropeptide Y. He subsequently became a pioneer and intellectual leader in the structure and function of PTPs.

The ASBMB-Merck Award consists of a plaque, stipend, and transportation and expenses of the recipient and spouse to the 2005 Annual Meeting to present a lecture. Recipients over the past several years include Jack L. Strominger in 2004, Stephen Benkovic in 2003, Robert G. Roeder and Robert D. Kornberger who shared the Award in 2002, and Avram Hershko and Alexander J. Varshavsky who shared the Award in 2001.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with 12,000 members in the United States and internationally. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, nonprofit research institutions, and industry.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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