Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“The Molecular Basis of Eukaryotic Transcription,” Dr. Roger Kornberg

2010 Linus Pauling Legacy Award

April 20, 2010


Roger Kornberg
Roger Kornberg (Stanford University)

“The Molecular Basis of Eukaryotic Transcription”  Watch Video

Dr. Kornberg's work focuses on eukaryotic transcription, or the process of copying DNA in animal cells. Specifically, Kornberg has made important breakthroughs in furthering the scientific understanding of the processes by which DNA is transcribed by RNA polymerase II and other proteins. These breakthroughs have been enabled in part by three-dimensional x-ray crystallographic images that the Kornberg laboratory created of the protein cluster central to DNA transcription. Nearly thirty years of research culminated in Kornberg's discovery of an additional protein complex that aids in this process – a complex which he and his Stanford colleagues named "The Mediator."

Kornberg's work in visualizing the atomic structure of RNA polymerase also demonstrates the mechanisms by which transcription works at a molecular level. According to the Nobel Prize committee, "the truly revolutionary aspect of the picture Kornberg has created is that it captures the process of transcription in full flow. What we see is an RNA-strand being constructed, and hence the exact positions of the DNA, polymerase and RNA during this process."

Related Names: Linus Pauling