Getting Bent Out of Shape with Yeast
It's a jungle out there for proteins trying to get by on little more than kinetic and thermodynamic stability.
Environmental stresses and genetic mutations can cause proteins to get all bent out of shape. These misfolded proteins are usually chewed up and sold for parts in order to prevent potential cellular toxicity. But some proteins "gone bad" are survivors; they get organized, and in some cases start recruiting other proteins to their camp. These infectious proteins are known as prions, and they form long strands, called amyloid fibrils. Humans and livestock have all suffered tremendously from these pernicious proteins in recent memory.
In this class we'll discuss how the unassuming Baker's yeast can rescue us all from the pestilent prion. How does a protein become a prion? What happens when yeast get prion disease? What can this teach us about human disease? Why would something as terrible as a prion evolve?
We'll explore all these questions, and hopefully start appreciating the plight of proteins and the awesome power of yeast.
Karen Hecht is a Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh where she studies protein quality control. She earned her B.Sc. in Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. Karen has been working with and against yeast for the past decade. She enjoys baking bread in her spare time, and sharing her scientific interests with anyone who'll listen.
Cost: FREE for Members, $5.00 for Non-Members