Two protein structures from an avian influenza virus are shown below. One form of the protein makes influenza virus resistant to Oseltamivir (Tamiflu®)
Don't worry, these proteins aren't from H5N1, but they do come from a related influenza virus that also infects birds.
One protein structure is from a strain that is sensitive to an anti-viral drug called "Tamiflu®". The other structure is from the same virus, except there's a slight difference. A single base change in the viral RNA changed the codon that tells the translation ... Read more
We encountered geosmin once before in our butter but most people notice it, about this time of year, in their tap water. Geosmin is a volatile compound that's made by soil bacteria like Streptomyces, as well as some plants like sugar beets, and ... Read more
I've had some requests for some more molecular puzzles since the last one that I posted (see A DNA puzzle ). One person liked it so much he even blogged about it.
So, here's one for you to chew on over the weekend.
This puzzle is a variation of an activity in Exploring DNA Structure, a CD/lab book that I made (with funding from the NSF) ... Read more
The wind storms and heavy rains that hit Seattle a few years ago, and flooded the Battery Street tunnel, demonstrated why a bypass mechanism can be a helpful thing - for both bacteria and motorists.
When the weather is nice, I bike to work. But when the weather gets bad, (I consider rain and 69 mph winds to be BAD), I take the easy way out. On the day of the big windstorm, driving home was not so easy. A mudslide covered one of my usual paths, blocked two lanes on a very busy street, and stopped traffic well into the depths of the city. Since we had to get to a soccer ... Read more
What's the difference between a synthetic drug and an antibiotic?
Sometimes there's no difference at all. Let's take a look at chloramphenicol and couple of pencillins.
Chloramphenicol kills many different kinds of bacteria by interfering with their ability to make new proteins. Here's a point where language gets tricky. Originally, chloramphenicol was isolated and purified from Streptomyces (a kind of bacteria). But, chloramphenicol is small and chemists are able to synthesize it. So even though we consider antibiotics to be natural products, they don't ... Read more
If you're still awake tomorrow after the feast and managing to withstand the sopoforic effects of the tryptophan from the turkey and the carbohydrates from the potatoes and pie, you might want to consider doing a little science at home. Fellow SciBlings Tara Smith (here & here), Mike Dunford ( ... Read more
Awhile back Chemical & Engineering News published a fascinating article called "The Secret Life of Plant Crystals" with some wonderful photos of calcium oxalate crystals. Special cells (called "idioblasts") produce these crystals, with shapes that are unique to each type of plant.
Even though 75% of flowering plants make these crystals, no one knows why they make them and in fact, their functions may be as diverse as their ... Read more
Modified from the original post.
Playing around with molecular structures is one of the more entertaining activities that you can do with digital biology. I've become totally entranced with molecular structures, both because they're a fascinating art form and because every structure has its own story.
I learned this because I ended up writing 69 different structure stories for ... Read more
Reposted and slightly modified from Classic DigitalBio.
Some people say that science takes the magic out of everyday life.
I've learned some things by reading Science (1) that might give some people nightmares, especially young children. Remember that scene in "The Wizard of Oz" when the trees get ticked off and start hurling apples at poor Dorothy?
Real plants do defend themselves.
Those "Wizard of Oz" trees would really defend themselves by giving poor Dorothy a tummy ache
Pardon me a moment while I apologize to enforcers of precise ... Read more