Christian de Duve
Christian René, viscount de Duve (born 2 October 1917) is a Nobel Prize-winning cytologist and biochemist
Biochemists are scientists who are trained in biochemistry. Typical biochemists study chemical processes and chemical transformations in living organisms. The prefix of "bio" in "biochemist" can be understood as a fusion of "biological chemist."-Role:...

. De Duve was born in Thames Ditton
Thames Ditton
Thames Ditton is a village in Surrey, England, bordering Greater London. It is situated 12.2 miles south-west of Charing Cross between the towns of Kingston upon Thames, Surbiton, Esher and East Molesey...

, Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, Great Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, as a son of Belgian
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 refugees. They returned to Belgium in 1920. De Duve was educated by the Jesuits at Onze-Lieve-Vrouwecollege in Antwerp, before studying at the Catholic University of Leuven
Catholic University of Leuven
The Catholic University of Leuven, or of Louvain, was the largest, oldest and most prominent university in Belgium. The university was founded in 1425 as the University of Leuven by John IV, Duke of Brabant and approved by a Papal bull by Pope Martin V.During France's occupation of Belgium in the...

, where he became a professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 in 1947. He specialized in subcellular biochemistry
Biochemistry, sometimes called biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes in living organisms, including, but not limited to, living matter. Biochemistry governs all living organisms and living processes...

 and cell biology
Cell biology
Cell biology is a scientific discipline that studies cells – their physiological properties, their structure, the organelles they contain, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. This is done both on a microscopic and molecular level...

 and discovered peroxisome
Peroxisomes are organelles found in virtually all eukaryotic cells. They are involved in the catabolism of very long chain fatty acids, branched chain fatty acids, D-amino acids, polyamines, and biosynthesis of plasmalogens, etherphospholipids critical for the normal function of mammalian brains...

s and lysosome
thumb|350px|Schematic of typical animal cell, showing subcellular components. [[Organelle]]s: [[nucleoli]] [[cell nucleus|nucleus]] [[ribosomes]] [[vesicle |vesicle]] rough [[endoplasmic reticulum]]...

s, cell
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

In cell biology, an organelle is a specialized subunit within a cell that has a specific function, and is usually separately enclosed within its own lipid bilayer....


In 1962 de Duve joined the faculty of what is now Rockefeller University
Rockefeller University
The Rockefeller University is a private university offering postgraduate and postdoctoral education. It has a strong concentration in the biological sciences. It is also known for producing numerous Nobel laureates...

 in New York City, dividing his time between New York and Leuven. He took emeritus
Emeritus is a post-positive adjective that is used to designate a retired professor, bishop, or other professional or as a title. The female equivalent emerita is also sometimes used.-History:...

 status at Université catholique de Louvain
Université catholique de Louvain
The Université catholique de Louvain, sometimes known, especially in Belgium, as UCL, is Belgium's largest French-speaking university. It is located in Louvain-la-Neuve and in Brussels...

 in 1985 and at Rockefeller in 1988, though he continued to conduct research.

Amongst other subjects, de Duve studied the distribution of enzymes in rat
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus...

The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

 cells using rate-zonal centrifugation
Centrifugation is a process that involves the use of the centrifugal force for the sedimentation of mixtures with a centrifuge, used in industry and in laboratory settings. More-dense components of the mixture migrate away from the axis of the centrifuge, while less-dense components of the mixture...

. De Duve's work on cell fractionation
Cell fractionation
Cell fractionation is the separation of homogeneous sets, usually organelles, from a heterogeneous population of cells.-Steps:There are three principal steps involved:#Disruption of cells and liberation of organelles.#Macro Filtration...

 provided an insight into the function of cell structures.

In 1960, de Duve was awarded the Francqui Prize
Francqui Prize
The Francqui Prize is a prestigious Belgian scholarly and scientific prize, awarded each year since 1933 by the Francqui Foundation in recognition of the achievements of a young Belgian scholar or scientist...

 for Biological and Medical Sciences. He was awarded the shared Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1974, together with Albert Claude
Albert Claude
Albert Claude was a Belgian biologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 with Christian de Duve and George Emil Palade. He studied engineering, and then medicine...

 and George E. Palade, for describing the structure and function of organelles (lysosomes and peroxisomes) in biological cells. His later years have been mostly devoted to origin of life studies, which he admits is still a speculative field (see thioester
Thioesters are compounds with the functional group C-S-CO-C. They are the product of esterification between a carboxylic acid and a thiol. Thioesters are widespread in biochemistry, the best-known derivative being acetyl-CoA.-Synthesis:...


His work has contributed to the emerging consensus that the endosymbiotic theory
Endosymbiotic theory
The endosymbiotic theory concerns the mitochondria, plastids , and possibly other organelles of eukaryotic cells. According to this theory, certain organelles originated as free-living bacteria that were taken inside another cell as endosymbionts...

 is correct; this idea proposes that mitochondria, chloroplast
Chloroplasts are organelles found in plant cells and other eukaryotic organisms that conduct photosynthesis. Chloroplasts capture light energy to conserve free energy in the form of ATP and reduce NADP to NADPH through a complex set of processes called photosynthesis.Chloroplasts are green...

s, and perhaps other organelles of eukaryotic
A eukaryote is an organism whose cells contain complex structures enclosed within membranes. Eukaryotes may more formally be referred to as the taxon Eukarya or Eukaryota. The defining membrane-bound structure that sets eukaryotic cells apart from prokaryotic cells is the nucleus, or nuclear...

 cells originated as prokaryote
The prokaryotes are a group of organisms that lack a cell nucleus , or any other membrane-bound organelles. The organisms that have a cell nucleus are called eukaryotes. Most prokaryotes are unicellular, but a few such as myxobacteria have multicellular stages in their life cycles...

An endosymbiont is any organism that lives within the body or cells of another organism, i.e. forming an endosymbiosis...

s, which came to live inside eukaryotic cells.

De Duve proposes that peroxisome
Peroxisomes are organelles found in virtually all eukaryotic cells. They are involved in the catabolism of very long chain fatty acids, branched chain fatty acids, D-amino acids, polyamines, and biosynthesis of plasmalogens, etherphospholipids critical for the normal function of mammalian brains...

s may have been the first endosymbionts, which allowed cells to withstand the growing amounts of free molecular oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. Since peroxisomes have no DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

of their own, this proposal has much less evidence than the similar claims for mitochondria and chloroplasts.

External links

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