Our DNA would mean very little if it were not for ribosomes, because ribosomes transform DNA into living matter. But scientists did not know exactly how ribosomes function or even what ribosomes look like until the works of Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz, and Ada E. Yonath shared their knowledge of the structure and workings of these life-giving structures. These scientists are the 2009 recipients of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
An X-ray structure of a bacterium ribosome. The rRNA molecules are colored orange, the proteins of the small subunit are blue and the proteins of the large subunit are green. An antibiotic molecule (red) is bound to the small subunit. (via Science Daily)
DNA is simply a blueprint for how organisms are supposed to look and function. Ribosomes transform DNA into living matter, taking it's information and making proteins accordingly; proteins like hemoglobin that transports oxygen through the blood, hormones like insulin for energy, collagen as connective tissue in the skin, enzymes that break down foods, and thousands of other proteins that control life in their various functions.
The three Nobel Laureates individually generated 3D models, using X-ray crystallography to map the position for hundreds of thousands of atoms that make up the ribosome, as well as showing how different antibiotics bind to the the ribosome, so that scientists can develop more targeted antibiotics.
The Laureates are from different labs and countries: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan is from MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology,
Cambridge, United Kingdom; Thomas A. Steitz, from Yale University, New
Haven, CT, USA; and Ada E. Yonath from Weizmann Institute of Science,
Rehovot, Israel. (Nobelprize.org, Science Daily)