Feodor Lynen

Last updated
Feodor Felix Konrad Lynen
Feodor Lynen with pipette.jpg
Born 6 April 1911
Munich, German Empire
Died 6 August 1979(1979-08-06) (aged 68)
Munich, West Germany
Nationality German
Awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1964)
Fellow of the Royal Society [1]

Feodor Felix Konrad Lynen ForMemRS [1] (6 April 1911 6 August 1979) was a German biochemist. In 1964 he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine together with Konrad Bloch for their discoveries concerning the mechanism and regulation of cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism while he was director of the Max-Planck Institute for Cellular Chemistry in Munich.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Biochemist Scientist specialized in biochemistry

Biochemists are scientists that are trained in biochemistry.

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine One of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded yearly for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in his will in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. Nobel was interested in experimental physiology and wanted to establish a prize for scientific progress through laboratory discoveries. The Nobel Prize is presented at an annual ceremony on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death, along with a diploma and a certificate for the monetary award. The front side of the medal displays the same profile of Alfred Nobel depicted on the medals for Physics, Chemistry, and Literature. The reverse side is unique to this medal. The most recent Nobel prize was announced by Karolinska Institute on 1 October 2018, and has been awarded to American James P. Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo – for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.



Feodor Lynen was born in Munich on 6 April 1911. He started his studies at the chemistry department of Munich University in 1930 and graduated in March 1937 under Heinrich Wieland with the work: "On the Toxic Substances in Amanita". Lynen remained in Germany throughout World War II. In 1942 he became a chemistry lecturer at the Munich University. In 1947 he became an assistant professor and in 1953 a professor of biochemistry. From 1954 onwards he was director of the Max-Planck Institute for Cellular Chemistry in Munich, a position which was created for him at the instigation of two senior scientists, Otto Warburg and Otto Hahn. In 1972, that institute was merged into the newly founded Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry in 1972. Also in 1972, Lynen was named President of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh). [2]

Munich Place in Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Heinrich Otto Wieland German Nobel laureate in Chemistry

Heinrich Otto Wieland was a German chemist. He won the 1927 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research into the bile acids.

Otto Heinrich Warburg German physiologist, medical doctor and Nobel laureate

Otto Heinrich Warburg, son of physicist Emil Warburg, was a German physiologist, medical doctor, and Nobel laureate. He served as an officer in the elite Uhlan during the First World War, and was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery. He was the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1931. In total, he was nominated for the award 47 times over the course of his career.

In 1964 he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine together with Konrad Bloch for their discoveries concerning the mechanism and regulation of cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism. These discoveries took many years to work out. [3] [4] [5] [6] The Nobel Committee felt that this was important because understanding the metabolism of sterols and fatty acids could reveal how cholesterol affects heart disease and stroke. [7] His Nobel Lecture on 11 December 1964 was 'The pathway from "activated acetic acid" to the terpenes and fatty acids'. [8]

Konrad Emil Bloch German American biochemist

Konrad Emil Bloch, ForMemRS was a German American biochemist. Bloch received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1964 for discoveries concerning the mechanism and regulation of the cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism.

Cholesterol sterol (or modified steroid),[4] a type of lipid molecule, and is biosynthesized by all animal cells, because it is an essential structural component of all animal cell membranes

Cholesterol is an organic molecule. It is a sterol, a type of lipid. Cholesterol is biosynthesized by all animal cells and is an essential structural component of animal cell membranes.

Fatty acid metabolism consists of catabolic processes that generate energy, and anabolic processes that create biologically important molecules (triglycerides, phospholipids, second messengers, local hormones and ketone bodies). Fatty acids are a family of molecules classified within the lipid macronutrient class. One role of fatty acids in animal metabolism is energy production, captured in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). When compared to other macronutrient classes (carbohydrates and protein), fatty acids yield the most ATP on an energy per gram basis, when they are completely oxidized to CO2 and water by beta oxidation and the citric acid cycle. Fatty acids (mainly in the form of triglycerides) are therefore the foremost storage form of fuel in most animals, and to a lesser extent in plants. In addition, fatty acids are important components of the phospholipids that form the phospholipid bilayers out of which all the membranes of the cell are constructed (the cell wall, and the membranes that enclose all the organelles within the cells, such as the nucleus, the mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and the Golgi apparatus). Fatty acids can also be cleaved, or partially cleaved, from their chemical attachments in the cell membrane to form second messengers within the cell, and local hormones in the immediate vicinity of the cell. The prostaglandins made from arachidonic acid stored in the cell membrane, are probably the most well known group of these local hormones.

Working mostly separately, Lynen and Bloch both discovered the steps that created squalene and turned the squalene into cholesterol. Initially, Lynen found that acetate activated by Coenzyme A was needed to start the process. He discovered the chemical structure of acetyl-coenzyme A, which was needed for a detailed understanding of the biochemical pathways. [7] He also learned that biotin, or Vitamin B7, was needed for in the process. [8]

Biotin chemical compound

Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin, also called vitamin B7 and formerly known as vitamin H or coenzyme R. It is involved in a wide range of metabolic processes, both in humans and in other organisms, primarily related to the utilization of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids.

On 14 May 1937, Lynen married Eva Wieland (1915-2002), daughter of his academic teacher. They had five children between 1938 and 1946. [2] Feodor Lynen died in Munich, Germany, on 6 August 1979, six weeks after an operation for aneurism. [7]


The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has a fellowship named in his honor.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is a foundation established by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany and funded by the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development as well as other national and international partners; it promotes international academic cooperation between excellent scientists and scholars from Germany and from abroad.

Honours and awards

Related Research Articles

Coenzyme A coenzyme, notable for its role in the synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids, and the oxidation of pyruvate in the citric acid cycle

Coenzyme A (CoA,SCoA,CoASH) is a coenzyme, notable for its role in the synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids, and the oxidation of pyruvate in the citric acid cycle. All genomes sequenced to date encode enzymes that use coenzyme A as a substrate, and around 4% of cellular enzymes use it (or a thioester) as a substrate. In humans, CoA biosynthesis requires cysteine, pantothenate (vitamin B5), and adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Pyruvic acid (CH3COCOOH) is the simplest of the alpha-keto acids, with a carboxylic acid and a ketone functional group. Pyruvate, the conjugate base, CH3COCOO, is a key intermediate in several metabolic pathways throughout the cell.

Steroid any organic compound having sterane as a core structure

A steroid is a biologically active organic compound with four rings arranged in a specific molecular configuration. Steroids have two principal biological functions: as important components of cell membranes which alter membrane fluidity; and as signaling molecules. Hundreds of steroids are found in plants, animals and fungi. All steroids are manufactured in cells from the sterols lanosterol (opisthokonts) or cycloartenol (plants). Lanosterol and cycloartenol are derived from the cyclization of the triterpene squalene.

Acetyl-CoA chemical compound

Acetyl-CoA is a molecule that participates in many biochemical reactions in protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Its main function is to deliver the acetyl group to the citric acid cycle to be oxidized for energy production. Coenzyme A consists of a β-mercaptoethylamine group linked to the vitamin pantothenic acid through an amide linkage and 3'-phosphorylated ADP. The acetyl group of acetyl-CoA is linked to the sulfhydryl substituent of the β-mercaptoethylamine group. This thioester linkage is a "high energy" bond, which is particularly reactive. Hydrolysis of the thioester bond is exergonic (−31.5 kJ/mol).


Ketogenesis is the biochemical process through which organisms produce ketone bodies through breakdown of fatty acids and ketogenic amino acids. This process supplies energy under circumstances such as fasting or caloric restriction to certain organs, particularly the brain, heart and skeletal muscle. Insufficient gluconeogenesis can cause hypoglycemia and excessive production of ketone bodies, ultimately leading to a life-threatening condition known as ketoacidosis.

Lipid metabolism is the synthesis and degradation of lipids in cells, involving the breakdown or storage of fats for energy and the synthesis of structural and functional lipids, such as those involved in the construction of cell membranes. In animals, these fats are obtained from food or are synthesized by the liver. Lipogenesis is the process of synthesizing these fats. The majority of lipids found in the human body from ingesting food are triglycerides and cholesterol. Other types of lipids found in the body are fatty acids and membrane lipids. Lipid metabolism is often considered as the digestion and absorption process of dietary fat; however, there are two sources of fats that organisms can use to obtain energy: from consumed dietary fats and from stored fat. Vertebrates use both sources of fat to produce energy for organs such as the heart to function. Since lipids are hydrophobic molecules, they need to be solubilized before their metabolism can begin. Lipid metabolism often begins with hydrolysis, which occurs with the help of various enzymes in the digestive system. Lipid metabolism also occurs in plants, though the processes differ in some ways when compared to animals. The second step after the hydrolysis is the absorption of the fatty acids into the epithelial cells of the intestinal wall. In the epithelial cells, fatty acids are packaged and transported to the rest of the body.

ATP citrate lyase enzyme

ATP citrate lyase is an enzyme that in animals represents an important step in fatty acid biosynthesis. ATP citrate lyase is important in that, by converting citrate to acetyl CoA, it links the metabolism of carbohydrates, which yields citrate as an intermediate, and the production of fatty acids, which requires acetyl CoA. In plants, ATP citrate lyase generates cytosolic acetyl-CoA precursor of thousands of specialized metabolites including waxes, sterols, and polyketides.

Gustav Georg Embden was a German physiological chemist.

Phosphomevalonate kinase

Phosphomevalonate kinase is an enzyme in the mevalonate pathway.

Isovaleryl-CoA chemical compound

Isovaleryl-coenzyme A, also known as isovaleryl-CoA, is an intermediate in the metabolism of branched-chain amino acids.

Methylcrotonyl-CoA chemical compound

3-Methylcrotonyl-CoA or β-Methylcrotonyl-CoA is an intermediate in the metabolism of leucine.

Butyrate—CoA ligase, also known as xenobiotic/medium-chain fatty acid-ligase (XM-ligase), is an enzyme that catalyzes the chemical reaction:

Acetyl-CoA C-acetyltransferase enzyme

In enzymology, an acetyl-CoA C-acetyltransferase is an enzyme that catalyzes the chemical reaction

Aramchol is an investigational drug being developed by Galmed Pharmaceuticals as a first-in-class, potentially disease modifying treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, a more advanced condition of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The Otto Warburg Medal is awarded annually by the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to honour scientists who have contributed important work in the field of biological chemistry. It is named after Otto Warburg, a renowned German physiologist and Nobel Prize laureate. It was first awarded on his 80th birthday on 8 October 1963.

Oxidosqualene cyclase

Oxidosqualene cyclases (OSC) are enzymes involved in cyclization reactions of 2,3-oxidosqualene to form sterols or triterpenes.


  1. 1 2 Krebs, H.; Decker, K. (1982). "Feodor Lynen. 6 April 1911-6 August 1979". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society . 28: 260. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1982.0012. JSTOR   769901.
  2. 1 2 "Feodor Lynen Biographical". Nobel Media AB. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
  3. Bucher NL, Overath P, Lynen F (June 1960). "beta-Hydroxy-beta-methyl-glutaryl coenzyme A reductase, cleavage and condensing enzymes in relation to cholesterol formation in rat liver". Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 40: 491–501. doi:10.1016/0006-3002(60)91390-1. PMID   13805544.
  4. Lynen F (July 1966). "The biochemical basis of the biosynthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids". Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift (in German). 78 (27): 489–97. PMID   4296920.
  5. Back P, Hamprecht B, Lynen F (August 1969). "Regulation of cholesterol biosynthesis in rat liver: diurnal changes of activity and influence of bile acids". Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 133 (1): 11–21. doi:10.1016/0003-9861(69)90482-2. PMID   5810824.
  6. Hamprecht B, Nüssler C, Waltinger G, Lynen F (January 1971). "Influence of bile acids on the activity of rat liver 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase. 1. Effect of bile acids in vitro and in vivo". European Journal of Biochemistry. 18 (1): 10–4. doi:10.1111/j.1432-1033.1971.tb01207.x. PMID   5547468.
  7. 1 2 3 "Feodor Lynen Biography (1911-1979)". Internet FAQ Archives. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
  8. 1 2 Lynen, Fyodor (1964-12-11). "The pathway from 'activated acetic acid' to the terpenes and fatty acids". Nobel Media AB.
  9. "Otto-Warburg-Medal". GBM. Retrieved 12 January 2014.