ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "proteins"

Lab Rat

From the archives: life at 90°C

Bacteria in a toga! Image (c) me.

I’m on holiday this week so this is an old post that appeared on my previous blog “Life of a Lab Rat” on July 1st 2010. Prokaryotes are by far the most successful superkingdom in terms of both biochemical diversity and the variety of environments conquered. Bacteria can be found living in all kinds of [...]

Keep reading »
Lab Rat

Speeding up reactions: biological vs. chemical catalysts

The process of catalysis. X and Y are reactants (input) while Z is the final product. C is the catalyst.

Most chemical reactions go pretty slowly at room temperature. This is good news most of the time, otherwise random parts of the environment would be exploding at regular intervals, but bad news for industrial processes which need reactions to occur. In order to speed them up, catalysts are used. A catalyst is any substance that [...]

Keep reading »
Lab Rat

Evolving proteins – no DNA required

Light photomicrograph of brain tissue (magnified 100X) suffering from vCJD. Image from Public Health Image Library (PHIL) ID#: 10131

Prions are the infective agents that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies such as Mad Cow Disease in humans. All prions affect the brain or neural tissues and are currently untreatable. What makes them particularly fascinating is that unlike other infective agents such as bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, they don’t contain any genetic material. No DNA or [...]

Keep reading »
Lab Rat

Clever microbes: bacterial sensors and signals

avatar_865d509c3ce7_128

If anyone is around in London over the weekend, there’s an awesome looking summer science exhibition at the Royal Society focusing on bacterial signal transduction: how bacteria work together to sense and respond to their environment. The exhibit runs from the 2-7th July and is free to attend. You can find out more about it, [...]

Keep reading »
Lab Rat

Toxic Little Molecules

The rod shaped Clostridium Difficile bacteria, image from the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

There are various different ways that pathogenic bacteria can damage and kill human cells, but one of the most common is by the production of toxic molecules. These small molecules are made inside the bacterial cell, the protein chain built using the DNA template and then often modified within the cell before being secreted directly [...]

Keep reading »
Lab Rat

How the animals lost their sensors

The components of the two-component signalling system. Picture (c) me.

For free-living organisms, the ability to sense and respond to the outside environment is crucial for survival. Eukaryotes, such as animals and plants, often have highly complex network systems in place to monitor their surroundings and respond effectively, but bacteria have developed a remarkably simple system. It’s called the ‘Two Component System’ because it literally [...]

Keep reading »
Lab Rat

The Bacteria that Commit Honourable Suicide

A simple diagram of the interactions between the two. The entire story is more complex, and can be found in the references

In multicellular organisms it is essential that every cell behaves and does the job it was produced to perform. The survival of a multicellular organism depends on this  - every cell in your body is tightly controlled in terms of how big it can grow (fairly big), when it can reproduce (almost never) and what [...]

Keep reading »
Lab Rat

The mainstream fronts of Synthetic Biology: Guest post

The iGEM logo

This is a guest post from M. A. Loera Sánchez from the iGEM team UANL 2012. I have carried out a few small grammar edits but otherwise the essay is all his work, and I would like to thank him for the opportunity to host it on my blog. All references are below the main [...]

Keep reading »
Lab Rat

Plants that shut out bacterial invaders

A stoma! The two curved things surrounding it are the two cells that control the opening. The small oval-shaped middle bit is the stoma - a hole in the cells covering the leaf.

I have a soft-spot for plant biology. In my final year at university, having exhausted all of the bacteria-related biochemistry lectures, I took a bacteria-related lecture course with the plants department. It was a smaller department, and seemed a lot friendlier and nicer. Also the biscuits in the tea-room were cheaper. So I do like to write about [...]

Keep reading »
Lab Rat

How cancer-causing bacteria force your cells to die

h pylori

The discovery that stomach ulcers are caused by bacteria is quite recent and was proved fairly conclusively in 1984 when the Australian scientist Barry Marshall drank a petri-dish full of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and five days later developed serious gastritis, which cleared after antibiotic treatment. As stomach ulcers are quite common, and can be a major [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Scientists observe protein folding in living cells for the first time

protein folding in vivo cells

Even in sleep, the human body is rarely still—and within it, there is the constant motion of the contents of our cells and the proteins within. Until now, scientists have had to estimate the speed of complex but common actions such as protein folding (which turns an unorganized polypeptide strand into a complex and useful [...]

Keep reading »
The Curious Wavefunction

Thanksgiving

It’s one of those moments which make being a scientist worth every bit of sweat, toil and tears. A few years ago we designed some molecules that disrupted the interaction between two proteins involved in cancer. Making drugs like these is much like figuring out the right piece of wood that you would wedge into [...]

Keep reading »
The Curious Wavefunction

What do conspiracy theories, religious beliefs and detoxifying proteins have in common?

Why do people believe in God, ghosts, goblins, spirits, the afterlife and conspiracy theories? Two common threads running through these belief systems are what skeptic Michael Shermer in his insightful book “The Believing Brain” calls “patternicity” and “agenticity”. As the names indicate, patternicity refers to seeing meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. Agenticity refers to seeing [...]

Keep reading »
The Curious Wavefunction

Gene duplication frees up enzymes for molecular promiscuity

Chemists studying metabolism in living organisms usually classify it into two kinds; primary and secondary. Primary metabolism is concerned with the production and reactions of essential biomolecules like proteins, sugars and lipids. Secondary metabolism refers to the production of small molecules which, although not essential, are still important in a variety of key functions. Secondary [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American MIND iPad

Give a Gift & Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now >>

X

Email this Article

X