Nov. 26, 2018
Orange is the color of autumn. The leaves of the forest change from their deep, summer green to a bright orange, pumpkins adorn neighborhood porches, and our Thanksgiving tables are topped with sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie. What’s making everything orange you may ask. Well, there’s a nifty little family of proteins responsible called carotenoids. Carotenoids (picture here, PDB: 5UI2) perform the vital task of protecting plants from harmful light-induced damage, so they’re always lurking below the surface. However, the intense green of chlorophyll drowns out the carotenoid-orange hues. The longer nights of autumn signals plants to stop production of chlorophyll. Once this molecule begins to break down, the carotenoids present themselves and paint the forest.
Nov. 19, 2018
A norovirus outbreak recently struck some of the California wildfire shelters, causing several people to be quarantined. Noroviurs is the primary cause of acute viral gastroenteritis, which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. This virus is very contagious and easily spreads from person to person in confined places like the shelters. People become infected when they encounter any contaminated consumable, surface, or other’s hands and bring the contamination to their mouth. It’s necessary to thoroughly wash hands and surfaces during an outbreak. Shown is the norovirus 3C-like protease (PDB: 1WQS), an enzyme crucial to the replication of the virus. Though there is currently no vaccine, inhibition of this enzyme has been a proposed anti-norovirus therapeutic.
Founders and Contributors of Bacteriology
Nov. 15, 2018
Written By Susana Kaufmann, Jacob Byerly, and Vincent Parish
As Thanksgiving approaches, we at Macromoltek would like to express our appreciation for some of the founding scientists of modern medicine. Without their commitment to the discipline, it would not be where it is today. There are many iconic figures in...
Nov. 12, 2018
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although it is a treatable disease, more than 2 million people die every year from lack of access to medicine or the rise of drug resistant strains. There are many proteins suspected to be involved in drug resistance and finding new therapeutic targets from them is vital in finding new cures. One cluster of proteins is referred to as antigen 85, containing three variations - A, B, and C. All three are secreted into the phagosomal space in the bacterial cell wall, interacting with fibronectin, reducing phagocytosis, and promoting infection. Antigen 85B is a promising target shown here in a structure that has lead to new insights into how the bacteria functions and discovery of new therapeutic targets. PDBID: 1F0N.
Nov. 5, 2018
We all love chocolate, but is it good or bad for you? Some studies have shown that dark chocolate improves peripheral artery disease. These results are due to cocoa which is a polyphenol‐rich nutrient – a type of nutrient that elicits artery dilatation by reducing oxidative stress and increasing nitric oxide generation. Another study examined the association of chocolate consumption with insulin resistance and serum liver enzymes (pictured; PDB ID 3dnk*). This study concluded, that there is an inverse relationship between daily chocolate consumption and levels of insulin, HOMA-IR, and liver enzymes in adults, suggesting that chocolate consumption may improve liver enzymes and protect against insulin resistance. Even though studies have shown that chocolate is good for you, moderation is always key! Remember that dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate because of sugar to cocoa ratios.
Oct. 31, 2018
The pungent bite of horseradish is familiar to most. Horseradish, along with its cousin wasabi, are used for their effects in condiments and dishes the world over - but horseradish has an important role that most people have never heard of. Enter horseradish peroxidase (HRP). HRP is a metalloenzyme (meaning it carries a metal atom to help it do chemistry) which uses hydrogen peroxide to induce a chemical change in a variety of substrates. This protein, found in high concentrations in horseradish roots, is vital to laboratory science - especially in the context of a test called ELISA. In this test, an antibody chemically linked to an HRP molecule is added to a solution, and allowed to bind to a protein-coated surface. A chemical marker is then added to the solution. This is where HRP comes in: if the antibody successfully bound to the surface, the attached HRP will begin to process the chemical marker, inducing a color change. After a certain amount of time, the reaction is stopped with a strong acid or base, and the color change is measured. More color change in the given timeframe corresponds to more HRP-antibodies bound to the surface. This, in turn, tells you how strong the interaction is between your antibody and the surface-bound protein! ELISA tests are used in labs that study proteins, but they are probably familiar to most people as the tests used to detect diseases like HIV in the bloodstream. Thanks to horseradish for doing its part to fight disease!
What is Protein Purification?
Oct. 25, 2018
Written By Vince Parish and Jacob Byerly
There is an adage in biochemistry: “Never waste pure thoughts on an impure protein” (1). The straightforward definition of protein purification is the isolation of only one type of molecule from the soup of many molecules — but the process itself is ra...
Oct. 22, 2018
Platypus milk may be exactly what we need to fight against antibiotic resistance. The platypus is one of few known monotreme species in the world. Monotremes are a small family of mammals that can lay eggs and produce milk for their young. Platypus milk is unusual since it's exposed directly onto the parent's belly, meeting the outside world before being delivered to the child. To prevent harmful effects from external bacteria, the milk contains antimicrobial proteins that kill or disarm these microorganisms. Shown here is one of these antimicrobial protein folds dubbed the "Shirley Temple," due to its ringlet structure (PDB: 4V00), by researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). Finding ways to utilize the antimicrobial proteins in platypus milk may be the key to counteract continuously emerging antibiotic resistance in infectious agents.
Oct. 16, 2018
Dysregulation of glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated signaling has been implicated in therapy resistance across a wide spectrum of cancer types. While the first GR antagonist mifepristone is being clinically evaluated, the search for more potent and selective small molecules continues. A recent publication presents a novel GR antagonist - ORIC-101- with better pharmaceutical properties, including reduced AR agonism. The graph presented at the attached link shows GR binding to ORIC-101 (PDB ID: 6dxk).
The Difference Between Vaccines and Antibody Therapeutics
Oct. 8, 2018
Written By Jacob Byerly and Vince Parish
Vaccines are considered to be among the greatest medical advances in the past several centuries. They have effectively eliminated some of the most deadly diseases ever to scourge humanity. Study of the immune system has led to the development of antibo...