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Bi-Weekly Seminar

Electric Field Driven Torque in Rotary Biological Motors

Prof. John H. Miller

by: Prof. John H. Miller

Date: Friday July 24, 2009

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Location: Houston Science Center – Building 593 — Room 102

Overview

Rotary motors, including ATP synthase, V-type ATPases, and the bacterial flagellar motor, play crucial roles in living organisms. In humans and other eukaryotes, ATP synthase operates in the inner membranes of mitochondria to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), life’s chemical currency of energy. V-type ATPases utilize the energy of ATP hydrolysis to create electrochemical potential differences (usually of protons) across diverse biological membranes. I will describe our recently proposed electric field driven torque model of ion-driven rotary motors. The model predicts a scaling law relating torque to the number of ion-carrying subunits in the rotor, the number of stators, and the ion motive force across the membrane. When the FO complex of ATP synthase is coupled to F1, the model predicts a minimum proton motive force (pmf) needed to drive ATP production by F1. By contrast the model predicts a maximum pmf against which the V1 complex of a V-type ATPase can overcome the opposing torque by V0 to pump protons back across the membrane. We are also working to develop label-free electromagnetic sensors to detect activity and possible dysfunction of mitochondrial and other enzymes. Dysfunction of mitochondrial enzymes has been implicated in type-2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases, while dysfunction of V-type ATPases has been implicated in osteopetrosis, distal renal tubular acidosis, and many other diseases. Therefore, improved understanding of such enzymes is broadly significant to human health.

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Writing Workshop

Graduate Writing Workshop Summer 2009

by: TcSUH Administration

Date: Monday June 01, 2009

Time: 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Location: Houston Science Center – Building 593 — Room 102

Overview

A special 8-week course has been designed specifically for graduate and post-doctoral students at TcSUH, particularly for whom English is not the first language.

Topics will include:

  • Writing for an American academic/research audience
  • Organizing and developing ideas
  • Writing effectively in forms common to the scientific field
  • Revising and editing
  • Delivering an oral presentation

Students will study with instructors and work with consultants from the UH Writing Center in lecture, individual, and small-group settings. (This is not a credit-bearing course, but participants will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the workshop.)

Class size is limited to 15 participants in order to allow for one-on-one interaction and in-depth discussion.

The TcSUH PIs will submit nominations to Jacqui Boulavsky by May 8. Once each participant has received notification of his/her acceptance by Mrs. Boulavsky, registration should be completed at the following website: The TcSUH PIs will submit nominations to Jacqui Boulavsky by May 8. Once each participant has received notification of his/her acceptance by Mrs. Boulavsky, registration should be completed at the following website.

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Bi-Weekly Seminar

Modulation of Calmodulin Plasticity by the Effect of Macromolecular Crowding

 Margaret S. Cheung

by: Margaret S. Cheung

Date: Friday May 22, 2009

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Location: Houston Science Center – Building 593 — Room 102

Overview

In vitro biochemical reactions are most often studied in dilute solution, a poor mimic of the intracellular space of eukaryotic cells which are crowded with mobile and immobile macromolecules. Such crowded conditions exert volume exclusion and other entropic forces that have the potential to impact chemical equilibria and reaction rates. In this article, we used the well characterized and ubiquitous molecule calmodulin (CaM) and a combination of theoretical and experimental approaches to address how crowding impacts CaM's conformational plasticity. CaM is a dumbbell shaped molecule that contains four EF hands (two in the N-lobe and two in the C-lobe) that each could bind Ca2+ leading to stabilization of certain substates that favor interactions with other target proteins. Using coarse-grained molecular simulations, we explored the distribution of CaM conformations in the presence of crowding agents. These predictions in which crowding effects enhances the population of compact structures were then confirmed in experimental measurements using fuorescence resonance energy transfer techniques of donor/acceptor labeled CaM under normal and crowded conditions. We further explored the folding energy landscape and examined the structural characteristics of CaM at free energy basins using protein reconstruction methods. We discovered that crowding stabilizes several different compact conformations, which refects the inherent plasticity in CaM's structure. From these results, we suggest that the EF hands in the C-lobe are fexible and can be thought of as a switch, while those in the N-lobe are stiff as analogous to a rheostat. New combinatorial signaling properties may arise from the product of the differential plasticity of the two distinct lobes of CaM in the presence of crowding. We discuss the implications of these results for modulating CaM's ability to bind Ca2+ and target proteins.

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Bi-Weekly Seminar

Electropolymerizable Dendrimer and Hybrid Nanomaterials

Prof. Rigoberto  Advincula

by: Prof. Rigoberto Advincula

Date: Friday May 08, 2009

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Location: Houston Science Center – Building 593 — Room 102

Overview

In this talk, we describe the investigation of dendrimeric precursor and hybrid nanomaterials towards the formation of conjugated polymer nanoparticles, networks, nanopatterning, and nanobjects. Electropolymerizable precursor polymer materials have been widely reported by our group and have been used to modify electrode surfaces with the formation of conjugated polymer network films. Most of these materials are based on linear polymers and block/graft copolymers. Very few reports have been given on dendritic precursor materials utilized for their electrochemical activity. In this talk, we will describe several strategies in which we have synthesized dendritic precursor polymers. These materials have applications for conducting polymer-based energy transfer materials, nanoelectronics, and sensing.

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Student Symposium

37th Semiannual Student Symposium and Family BBQ

by: TcSUH Administration

Date: Tuesday May 05, 2009

Time: 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Location: Houston Science Center – Building 593 — Room 102

Overview

The juried Student Symposium will begin at 1:00 p.m. with a series of 15-minute presentations representing novel work by undergraduate and graduate students from each laboratory. A Symposium Program, including the schedule and abstracts for each presentation, will be provided at the door.

The Family BBQ will follow the symposium from 5:15-7:00 p.m. There will be lots of food, drinks, and games and prizes. Sign up for games on the bulletin board in the HSC 2nd floor lobby.

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