Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Regan Lab & the New Haven Race

http://expasy.org/prosite/PDOC50005 From PDB
As I try to do the balancing act of course-taking, lab rotation, my-own-time and XL-family-time, just thought it would be nice to update nice once in a while. Blogging kindda sets things in perspective I guess. So I have finally found myself a lab in my first rotation: Lynne Regan's lab. Prof Regan has some awesome projects, but most notably and what her lab is known for, is TPRs: tetratri-copeptide (short description); it's such a niche area of research that I can't even find it on Wikipedia!! LOLX.. landmark paper here...
Main et. al. (2003). (c) and (d) are TPR repeat proteins.

If you look at the diagram (number c), you can imagine each TPR as one module of the same color (red, yellow, blue). So you have there 3 and half (the green segment) stacked in a spiral manner. Each of these 3 TPRs are similar in length and sequence; so you can imagine LEGOs of similar size stacked up. The minimum binding unit is apparently a combination of 3 TPRs in tandem. So the Regan Lab has done much on TPRs: elucidating their structure, consensus sequence, their binding specificities and partners, functions and implications in certain diseases. One of the things they are moving into now is the applications of these TPRs.

As you can imagine, one of the most obvious applications, by virtue of the LEGO-like repeated motifs, is the synthesis of artificial peptides. Unlike most other proteins, which are globular, where you cannot easily just stack up parts of the proteins to form a larger one, TPRs can be synthetically engineered to have competitive functions to naturally occurring peptides, particularly antibodies, to aid in inhibiting pathways that lead to diseases, say HIV in AIDS or using the TPRs design as anticancer drugs. This could be my small step into the realm of synthetic biology that I am really trying to get a handle on...

So that's my life as of now, other than MATLAB, biological physics and biomedical informatics, taking up the bulk of my life...

But anyway, just to catch up on events. On Labor Day (US it's on Sept 6th), there was Stratton Faxon New Haven Race. Apparently, it's in its 31st year. Just 3 weeks here, and I embarked on my first ever running event at New Haven. Sweet =)

Prof Regan "invited" me to run (I had to pay on that day -_-|||, which is more expensive btw), but I got this great T-shirt that she made for her lab!! Thanks! And of course, I enjoyed the run very much. I ran 5km in 28 min. Think that's pretty decent =) And seriously, the weather was good, sunny yet cooling. It was pretty well-organized for its scale (not very big compared to those in Singapore). So I would say I would enter again next year. Just to keep myself in the keeping-fit mode. Photos as usual, on facebook =) A pity though, G and M didn't get to take pictures with us.

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