From LINES I LIKED…by NARA
It is surprisingly easy to lose your cool, and to react to minor stresses and to irritating people. However, most of us would rather feel relaxed and in control, and the following guidelines can help us reach this goal.
1. Keep things in perspective: Often we catastrophise or over-react when the…
Molecular biology is the study of life on a microscopic and submicroscopic scale. It encompasses the varuious subdisciplines of microbiology, genetics, virology, microbiology, neurobiology, cell biology, etc. The purpose of molecular biology research is to discover how biology works on a much smaller scale than basic biology and to elucidate the mysteries of the organism, cell, genome, proteome, epigenome, etc.
Molecular biology research is very important in the treatment of diseases and understanding the intricacies of how an organism functions on a molecular scale. With molecular biology research we can create vaccines for the flu, provide treatment to various cancers, and endless other possibilities.
Biochemistry and molecular biology are very strongly linked and in order to be a good molecular biologist you should know your biochemistry. For instance, if I am looking for a protein that may be linked to altering the folding of DNA to regulate gene transcription, I know I should look for a large number of histidine, arginine, and lysine residues because these are all positively charged amino acids (the compononent of proteins) and DNA is negatively charged due to the large number of phosphodiester bonds. The difference in charge would facilitate binding. Another example is protein denaturation. Certain molecular biology assays require that we denature, or “flatten out,” a protein so that it can be run through an electric field. Cysteine residues have a thiol group that can bind together to form a disulfide to stabilize protein structure. We use β-mercaptoethanol to destroy these disulfide bonds in the protein to make sure nothing other than the size of the protein is affecting how far it travels down the gel. Side note: charge is also an issue in gel electrophoresis of proteins so detergents like sodium dodecylsulfate (SDS) is used to make all the proteins negative. While on the topic of electric charge, all proteins have isoelectric points that can be estimated based on their amino acid sequence. The isoelectric point is important in protein purification. My last example is sugar residues. Every cell in our body is literally coated in sugars. These sugars are essential for the identification of “self” vs. “non-self” in the immune response. Each person has different sugar coats on their cells so that their body doesn’t attack itself but it will attack foreign cells, which is why people who get organ transplants need to take immunosuppressants. The sugar coat makes up the major histocompatabily (MHC) of an organism. The sugar coat changes, however, especially in diseased, virus/bacteria-infected or cancerous, cells. The change in sugar residue is then picked up by the immune system which destroys the diseased cell. This type of sugar biochemistry has become particularly interesting in the field of cancer research because knowing what sugars change can help us better identify or treat cancer.