To have an effect, a molecule must bind to a receptor and trigger a signal. Studying a receptor's structure can give us insights about the way this triggering process works.
Capsaicin is a fascinating molecule that puts the "pep" into peppers. Curiously, the amount of capsaicin in a pepper is measured with a test devised in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville. Dried peppers are dissolved in alcohol, this liquid extract is diluted in water, and trained people determine the pepper's Scoville value by "tasting" the heat.
I really wonder how these people are recruited. I like hot ... Read more
On pinene and inhibiting enzymes. People of a certain age may remember a series of really funny commercials featuring Euell Gibbons and his famous question about whether you've ever eaten a pine tree. "Some parts are edible" said Euell. Perhaps some parts are, but other pine tree products aren't so nourishing. Crystallography365, aka @Crystal_in_city had a couple of fun blog posts about pinene, ... Read more
In 1925, dogsledders raced through the frozen Alaskan bush to bring antiserum to the isolated village of Nome. The antiserum arrived in time, saved the lives of many villagers from the horrors of diphtheria, and inspired the Iditarod, a famous race in celebration of the dog sledders' heroic feat.
West Africa could use a similar effort today. Richard Harris's blog at NPR has a good story about doctors' efforts to develop and use antiserum to treat Ebola. According ... Read more
What’s the first you think about when you see a spider? Running away? Danger? Fairies? Spiderman?
Do you wonder if spider silk is really strong enough to stop a train, like they showed in Spiderman 2?
Whatever your thoughts, you’re probably not thinking about 3D printing in space ... Read more
A key concept in science is molecular scale. DNA is a fascinating molecule in this regard.
While we cannot "see" DNA molecules without the aid of advanced technology, a full length DNA molecule can be very long. In human cells, other than sperm and eggs, six billion base pairs of DNA are packaged into 22 pairs of chromosomes, plus two sex chromosomes. Each base pair is 34 angstroms in length (.34 nanometers, or ~0.3 billionths of a meter), so six billion base pairs (all chromosomes laid out head to toe) form a chain that's two-meters long. If we could hang this DNA chain from a hook, it ... Read more
Today (4/25) is national DNA day. Digital World Biology™ is celebrating by sharing some of our favorite structures of DNA. We created these photos with Molecule World™ a new iPad app for viewing molecular structures.
As we are taught in school, the double stranded DNA molecule is a right-handed helix as determined by Watson and Crick using Franklin's x-ray diffraction images . This B- ... Read more
It's been interesting to watch as microbiology's own cold fusion debate has been raging. It began with an extraordinary claim about bacteria using arsenate as a replacement when phosphate concentrations are low (1).
It progressed when at least two scientist / bloggers ( here, and here) (not bloggers! the horrror! how uncivil!) gave public "journal club" presentations on ... Read more
Want to learn more about Parkinson's disease? See why a single nucleotide mutation messes up the function of a protein?
I have a short activity that uses Cn3D (a molecular viewing program from the NCBI) to look at a protein that seems to be involved in a rare form of Parkinson's disease and I could sure use beta testers.
If you'd like to do this, I need you to follow the directions below and afterwards, go to a web form and answer a few questions. Don't worry about getting the wrong answers. I won't know who ... Read more
Lots of bloggers in the DNA network have been busy these past few days writing about Google's co-founder Sergey Brin, his blog, his wife's company (23andme), and his mutation in the LRRK2 gene.
I was a little surprised to see that while other bloggers (here, here, ... Read more