We hosted our 2nd annual Hackathon this past weekend to choose next year's interns. A big round of applause goes out to these finalists who really wowed us during the interview process!
Dec. 17, 2018
Dec. 17, 2018
As the new year approaches, we prepare to exit 2018 and move onto 2019. What better way to exit this year in MOTW than by looking at exosomes. Exosomes are cell-derived vesicles that have recently been positively correlated with ovarian cancer invasiveness – sparking new interest in early detection of ovarian cancer (which has been one of the deadliest types of cancer due to the lack of early detection). Thus, exosomes are being explored for their role as potential biomarkers for general health and disease. One of the accepted markers for exosomes is CD81 (shown here, PDB 5TCX). It is a tetraspanin transmembrane protein with both the N and C terminus being exposed in the intracellular side of the cellular membrane. Using immunoelectron microscopy, researchers have identified tetraspanins as being abundant on a wide variety of endocytic membranes, including exosomes. CD81 contains the best characterized extracellular loop that tetraspanins are known to possess. To learn more about interesting molecules and about our molecular modeling capabilities follow us @macromoltek
Dec. 10, 2018
Now that winter has finally come ‘round here to Texas, many of us find ourselves shivering when we step outside. However, there's an important part of the population that don't have enough muscle tissue to shiver: infants. Babies have proportionately large heads with high surface area, lack hair, and have developing nervous systems. This makes them particularly susceptible to hypothermia. Fortunately, nearly 5% of their body mass comes from Brown Adipose Tissue, or “brown fat”. Brown fat features mitochondria with Uncoupling Protein 1 (UCP1*), a "proton leak" channel protein. Rather than storing energy in chemical bonds for the rest of the cell to use, the mitochondria in brown fat cells "leak" high energy protons which, in turn, warm up the rest of the body. In addition to human infants, brown adipose tissue is abundant in mammals that hibernate through the winter.
"Starting Up" with Cloud Computing
Dec. 7, 2018
Written By Naren Makkapati, Vince Parish, and Jacob Byerly
"Cloud computing has long since left the “buzzword stage” of its life cycle, with most major companies integrating it into their technology and workflow to some degree. Cloud computing is often described through a number of analogies — from a “data lak...
Dec. 3, 2018
Recent advances in T-cell-based immunotherapies have created very promising first-line and alternative treatments for cancer patients. The most popular treatments include anti-CTLA4 and anti-PD1 therapies that promote the T-cell-mediated killing of specific types of cancer cells. New sets of combinational therapies are developed to potentiate these properties of antibodies. One of them is inhibition of the molecular chaperone HSP90, which facilitates cancer cell survival by stabilizing key proteins that support this malignancy. Here we show a co-crystal structure of HSP90 and its small molecule inhibitor in green (PDB ID: 2QG0).
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. Norovirus 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.