The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2013 was awarded jointly to James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Südhof “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells” a Nobel Foundation press release stated.
Cells synthesise and export molecules that are necessary for organisms to function. These molecules (cargo) are transported within a cell and to the cell membrane using vesicles. The 2013 Nobel Laureates discovered the way in which cells target these vesicles to specific sites within a cell for transport and release of their contents.
Laureate contributions: Randy Schekman identified a set of genes that are required for vesicle movement/trafficking. James Rothman discovered protein components that allows vesicles to fuse with their targets to permit release of their contents. Thomas Südhof showed how signals instruct vesicles to release their cargo with precision.