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Molecular machines

Public lecture to discuss protein behaviour in living cells

By Kelly Foss

An upcoming public lecture at Memorial University will focus on understanding how proteins behave in the crowded micro-environment of living cells.

The behaviour of proteins – the molecular machines of living cells – in living cells is significantly different from that typically observed in laboratory experiments.

Improved understanding

By examining the stability of proteins and their complexes, both in concentrated solutions and in living bacterial cells, Dr. Gary Pielak, a professor of chemistry from the University of North Carolina, has shown that crowding affects stability and binding, but not always as predicted by simple theory.

“Knowledge of these differences improves our understanding of protein behaviour in living cells,” he said. “The crowded and complex environment in cells is predicted to affect protein behaviour compared to dilute buffer, but some predictions may not be correct. The differences point to opportunities for theoretical efforts and simulations.”

Reddy Memorial Lecture

The Kenan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Dr. Pielak also holds a joint appointment at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His research focuses on high-resolution protein NMR studies in living cells; oxidative damage to α-synuclein, a key protein in Parkinson’s disease, and pressure perturbation calorimetry of peptides and proteins.

He will present the 2019 Dr. and Mrs. Satti Paddi and Parvati Reddy Public Lecture, titled Understanding Protein Behaviour in Cells, on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation, room IIC-2001. Admission is free and all are welcome. A reception will follow.

Dr. Pielak will also give a research talk, titled Tardigrade Proteins and Desiccation Tolerance on Friday, Oct. 18, in C-2045.


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