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Title:Life Takes Shape
Author(s):Rickard, Meredith
Abstract:Inside the cells of every living thing on Earth, there are millions of proteins—the molecular movers and shakers of life, each with a specific job to do. However, they can only do their jobs if they are folded—if their atoms have arranged themselves in specific conformations. This folded shape determines their function, like the bends in a paper clip or a key’s teeth. As technology advances, we can use computers to model protein folding with more complexity than ever before. In the past, scientists simulated proteins alone, but cells are very crowded. My research focuses on this crowd and its effects on protein folding. Specifically, the questions I am trying to answer are: Do a protein’s neighbors help or hinder its folding? Does a protein fold differently when it’s in a crowd? The answers to these questions offer insights into how life and disease work at the atomic level. This image shows many representations of a single moment in time as one protein folds—on the left, atoms pack together to form structural motifs (middle), which in turn create a 3D surface (right) while the protein’s neighbors look on (background, orange).
Issue Date:2020
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Meredith Rickard
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-04-15

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