Explore the diversity of cellular proteins. More than a dietary component, proteins are essential to life and engage in processes from metabolism to DNA replication.
Proteins are the cellular manifestation of genetic information. They are assembled into a polymeric structure from monomers derived in part from components in our diet. The many proteins that cells manufacture perform a broad range of essential functions — the molecular workforce of living organisms. We will explore how proteins are constructed, how they fold into 3-dimensional shapes, the kinds of bonds that hold these folded structures together, and the immense range of roles that proteins assume — from structural proteins such as muscle to catalysts for cellular chemical reactions.
To understand how a protein works, purification and characterization are essential, and we will identify a variety of methods utilized to explore protein structure and function to uncover how these tiny machines drive almost all living processes.
The course utilizes video lectures, research articles, case studies, and molecular models. Questions with each video lecture, quizzes, homework, a writing assignment, and an exam will determine the final grade.
What you'll learn:
- Building blocks that comprise proteins
- Levels of protein structure
- Forces that hold proteins into their 3-dimensional functional form
- Functional properties of proteins
- Nature of proteins embedded in cell membranes
- Dynamic nature of proteins
- Proteins as catalysts for metabolism
- Regulatory mechanisms
- Role of energy in catalysis
- Purification and analysis techniques for proteins
Large-scale biology projects such as the sequencing of the human genome and gene expression surveys using RNA-seq, microarrays and other technologies have created a wealth of data for biologists. However, the challenge facing scientists is analyzing and even accessing these data to extract useful information pertaining to the system being studied. This course focuses on employing existing bioinformatic resources – mainly web-based programs and databases – to access the wealth of data to answer questions relevant to the average biologist, and is highly hands-on.
After sequencing genomes, we would like to compare them. We will see that dynamic programming is a powerful algorithmic tool when we compare two genes (i.e., short sequences of DNA) or two proteins. When we "zoom out" to compare entire genomes, we will employ combinatorial algorithms.
In this class, we will compare DNA from an individual against a reference human genome to find potentially disease-causing mutations. We will also learn how to identify the function of a protein even if it has been bombarded by so many mutations compared to similar proteins with known functions that it has become barely recognizable.