John Gurdon

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John Gurdon
John Gurdon Cambridge 2012.JPG
Born John Bertrand Gurdon
(1933-10-02) 2 October 1933 (age 80)
Dippenhall, Hampshire, England
Citizenship British
Nationality English
Fields Developmental biology
Institutions University of Oxford
University of Cambridge
California Institute of Technology
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Thesis Studies on nucleocytoplasmic relationships during differentiation in vertebrates (1961)
Doctoral advisor Michael Fischberg[1]
Doctoral students Douglas A. Melton
Known for Nuclear transfer, cloning
Notable awards Wolf Prize in Medicine (1989)
Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (2009)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2012)
Website
www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/zoostaff/gurdon.htm

Sir John Bertrand Gurdon, FRS, FMedSci (born 2 October 1933), is an English developmental biologist. He is best known for his pioneering research in nuclear transplantation[2][3][4] and cloning.[1][5][6][7] He was awarded the Lasker Award in 2009. In 2012, he and Shinya Yamanaka were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that mature cells can be converted to stem cells.[8]

Early days[edit]

Gurdon attended Edgeborough and then Eton College, where he ranked last out of the 250 boys in his year group at biology, and was in the bottom set in every other science subject. A schoolmaster wrote a report stating "I believe he has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous."[9] Gurdon explains it is the only document he ever framed; Gurdon also told a reporter "When you have problems like an experiment doesn't work, which often happens, it's nice to remind yourself that perhaps after all you are not so good at this job and the schoolmaster may have been right."[10]

Gurdon went to Christ Church, Oxford, to study classics but switched to zoology. For his DPhil degree he studied nuclear transplantation in the frog Xenopus[11] with Michael Fischberg at Oxford. Following postdoctoral work at Caltech,[12] he returned to England and his early posts were at the Department of Zoology of the University of Oxford (1962–71).

Gurdon has spent much of his research career at the University of Cambridge, first at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (1971–83) and then at the Department of Zoology (1983–present). In 1989, he was a founding member of the Wellcome/CRC Institute for Cell Biology and Cancer (later Wellcome/CR UK) in Cambridge, and was its Chair until 2001. He was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics 1991–1995, and Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, from 1995 to 2002.

Research[edit]

A video from an open-access article co-authored by Gurdon:[13] Animal view of different embryos developing in Xenopus laevis eggs: a diploid laevis x laevis is shown on the top, cleaving and entering gastrulation about 50 min earlier than haploid [laevis] x laevis (middle) and [laevis] x tropicalis cybrid (bottom) embryos.

Nuclear transfer[edit]

In 1958, Gurdon, then at the University of Oxford, successfully cloned a frog using intact nuclei from the somatic cells of a Xenopus tadpole.[14][15] This work was an important extension of work of Briggs and King in 1952 on transplanting nuclei from embryonic blastula cells[16] and the successful induction of polyploidy in fish Stickleback, Gasterosteus aculatus, in 1956 by Har Swarup reported in Nature.[17] However, he could not yet conclusively show that the transplanted nuclei derived from a fully differentiated cell. This was finally shown in 1975 by a group working at the Basel Institute for Immunology in Switzerland.[18] They transplanted a nucleus from an antibody-producing lymphocyte (proof that it was fully differentiated) into an enucleated egg and obtained living tadpoles.

Gurdon’s experiments captured the attention of the scientific community and the tools and techniques he developed for nuclear transfer are still used today. The term clone[19] (from the ancient Greek word κλών (klōn, “twig”)) had already been in use since the beginning of the 20th century in reference to plants. In 1963 the British biologist J. B. S. Haldane, in describing Gurdon’s results, became one of the first to use the word "clone" in reference to animals.

Messenger RNA expression[edit]

Gurdon and colleagues also pioneered the use of Xenopus (genus of highly aquatic frog) eggs and oocytes to translate microinjected messenger RNA molecules,[20] a technique which has been widely used to identify the proteins encoded and to study their function.

Recent research[edit]

Gurdon's recent research has focused on analysing intercellular signalling factors involved in cell differentiation, and on elucidating the mechanisms involved in reprogramming the nucleus in transplantation experiments, including the role of histone variants,[21][22] and demethylation of the transplanted DNA.[23]

Politics and religion[edit]

Gurdon has stated that he is politically "middle of the road", and religiously agnostic because "there is no scientific proof either way". During his tenure as Master of Magdalene College, Gurdon created some controversy when he suggested that fellows should occasionally be allowed to deliver "an address on anything they would like to talk about" in college chapel services.[24] In an interview with EWTN.com, Gurdon reports that "I'm what you might call liberal minded. I'm not a Roman Catholic. I'm a Christian, of the Church of England." [25]

Honours and awards[edit]

Gurdon was made a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1971, and was knighted in 1995. In 2004, the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Institute for Cell Biology and Cancer was renamed the Gurdon Institute[26] in his honour. He has also received numerous awards, medals and honorary degrees.[12] In 2005, he was elected as an Honorary Member of the American Association of Anatomists. He was awarded the 2009 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research award and in 2014 delivered the Harveian Oration at the Royal College of Physicians.[27]

Nobel Prize[edit]

In 2012 Gurdon was awarded, jointly with Shinya Yamanaka, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent".[28] His Nobel Lecture was called "The Egg and the Nucleus: A Battle for Supremacy".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Williams, R. (2008). "Sir John Gurdon: Godfather of cloning". The Journal of Cell Biology 181 (2): 178–179. doi:10.1083/jcb.1812pi. PMC 2315664. PMID 18426972.  edit
  2. ^ Gurdon, J. B.; Byrne, J. A. (2003). "The first half-century of nuclear transplantation". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100 (14): 8048. doi:10.1073/pnas.1337135100.  edit
  3. ^ Gurdon, J. B. (2006). "From Nuclear Transfer to Nuclear Reprogramming: The Reversal of Cell Differentiation". Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology 22: 1–22. doi:10.1146/annurev.cellbio.22.090805.140144. PMID 16704337.  edit
  4. ^ Gurdon, J. B.; Melton, D. A. (2008). "Nuclear Reprogramming in Cells". Science 322 (5909): 1811–1815. doi:10.1126/science.1160810. PMID 19095934.  edit
  5. ^ Kain, K. (2009). "The birth of cloning: An interview with John Gurdon". Disease Models and Mechanisms 2 (1–2): 9–10. doi:10.1242/dmm.002014. PMC 2615171. PMID 19132124.  edit
  6. ^ Gurdon, J. (2003). "John Gurdon". Current biology : CB 13 (19): R759–R760. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2003.09.015. PMID 14521852.  edit
  7. ^ Gurdon, J. (2000). "Not a total waste of time. An interview with John Gurdon. Interview by James C Smith". The International journal of developmental biology 44 (1): 93–99. PMID 10761853.  edit
  8. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine – 2012 Press Release". Nobel Media AB. 8 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "None of us should ever be written off". Western Gazette. 18 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Collins, Nick (8 October 2012). "Sir John Gurdon, Nobel Prize winner, was 'too stupid' for science at school". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  11. ^ Gurdon, John (1961). Studies on nucleocytoplasmic relationships during differentiation in vertebrates (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. 
  12. ^ a b Rodney Porter Lectures: Biography
  13. ^ Narbonne, P.; Simpson, D. E.; Gurdon, J. B. (2011). "Deficient Induction Response in a Xenopus Nucleocytoplasmic Hybrid". In Misteli, Tom. PLoS Biology 9 (11): e1001197. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001197. PMC 3217020. PMID 22131902.  edit
  14. ^ Gurdon, J. B.; Elsdale, T. R.; Fischberg, M. (1958). "Sexually Mature Individuals of Xenopus laevis from the Transplantation of Single Somatic Nuclei". Nature 182 (4627): 64–65. doi:10.1038/182064a0. PMID 13566187.  edit
  15. ^ Gurdon, J. B. (1962). "The developmental capacity of nuclei taken from intestinal epithelium cells of feeding tadpoles". Journal of embryology and experimental morphology 10: 622–640. PMID 13951335.  edit
  16. ^ Robert Briggs and Thomas J. King (May 1952). "Transplantation of Living Nuclei From Blastula Cells into Enucleated Frogs' Eggs". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 38 (5): 455–463. doi:10.1073/pnas.38.5.455. PMC 1063586. PMID 16589125. 
  17. ^ Swarup H. Production of heteroploidy in the three-spined stickle back (Gasterosteus aculeatus L) Nature in 1956;178:1124–1125. doi: 10.1038/1781124a0; http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v178/n4542/abs/1781124a0.html
  18. ^ Wabl, M. R.; Brun, R. B.; Du Pasquier, L. (1975). "Lymphocytes of the toad Xenopus laevis have the gene set for promoting tadpole development". Science 190 (4221): 1310–1312. doi:10.1126/science.1198115. PMID 1198115.  edit
  19. ^ Gurdon, J. B.; Colman, A. (1999). "The future of cloning". Nature 402 (6763): 743–746. doi:10.1038/45429. PMID 10617195.  edit
  20. ^ Gurdon, J. B.; Lane, C. D.; Woodland, H. R.; Marbaix, G. (1971). "Use of Frog Eggs and Oocytes for the Study of Messenger RNA and its Translation in Living Cells". Nature 233 (5316): 177–182. doi:10.1038/233177a0. PMID 4939175.  edit
  21. ^ Jullien, J.; Astrand, C.; Halley-Stott, R. P.; Garrett, N.; Gurdon, J. B. (2010). "Characterization of somatic cell nuclear reprogramming by oocytes in which a linker histone is required for pluripotency gene reactivation". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 (12): 5483–5488. doi:10.1073/pnas.+1000599107. PMC 2851752. PMID 20212135.  edit
  22. ^ Pasque, V.; Gillich, A.; Garrett, N.; Gurdon, J. B. (2011). "Histone variant macroH2A confers resistance to nuclear reprogramming". The EMBO Journal 30 (12): 2373–2387. doi:10.1038/emboj.2011.144. PMC 3116279. PMID 21552206.  edit
  23. ^ Simonsson, S.; Gurdon, J. (2004). "DNA demethylation is necessary for the epigenetic reprogramming of somatic cell nuclei". Nature Cell Biology 6 (10): 984–990. doi:10.1038/ncb1176. PMID 15448701.  edit
  24. ^ Johnny Michael (2012-10-11). "John Gurdon on ethics, politics, religion, and anti-theism". upublish.info. 
  25. ^ Ann Schneible (2013-12-04). "Nobel Prize Winner Participates at Vatican Conference". 
  26. ^ "The Gurdon Institute". Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  27. ^ "2014 - Event listing from April onwards". Royal College of Physicians. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  28. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012". NobelPrize.org. 8 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
David Chilton Phillips
Fullerian Professor of Physiology
1985–1991
Succeeded by
Anne McLaren
Preceded by
Sir David Calcutt
Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge
1994–2002
Succeeded by
Duncan Robinson