Friday, May 6, 2016

Biochemists watch gene expression

Scientists have been exposed to the central dogma of biology for years, and while transcription is a well documented process, translation has proven to be much more difficult to explain and observe.  The researchers encoded proteins with receptor sites, and they used a fluorescent anti-body fragments to observe the proteins.  In order to observe the fluorescent proteins, scientists constructed a microscope, which utilizes two extremely sensitive cameras that can observe a strand of RNA.  They discovered that proteins are constructed at a rate of about 10 amino acids per second.

Of course, translation is the process used to convert RNA to protein.  By learning more about translation, scientists are hopeful that they can understand mechanisms employed by other genes that code for diseases like cancers.  It's also pretty incredible that as many as ten amino acids can be strung together in a second.  Proteins are one of the four biochemical macromolecules, and their construction is extremely important for life.  

I think that this is a pretty cool article.  It's interesting that somebody can practically witness the construction of a protein, and there are tons of directions that this experiment could shoot off towards.  As alluded to earlier, it could be used to understand genetic disease mechanics, or even other proteins.  With regards to the rate of protein construction, though, I think that it actually makes sense that the rate is about 10 amino acids per second.  Proteins are constantly being denatured in the body due to localized pH or temperature changes, so proteins constantly need to be built to ensure that the body functions properly.  They need to be made quickly to replace ones that are denatured, so that portion of the experiment makes perfect sense to me.  

1 comment:

  1. Cool post! I have to agree with you, the fact that there are basically little factories inside of our cells making proteins is incredible. I think it's fascinating that different enzymes and molecules have specific duties to fulfill the process of making proteins.