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Chemistry Seminar:  March 1, 2017 in Emerson Auditorium, 4:35PM

A Lack of Folding and yet a Function: Structural Insights into Intrinsically Disordered Proteins and Transcription

Prof. Scott A. Showalter, Penn State

Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs) partially or completely lack a co-operatively folded structure under native conditions, making their equilibrium state very different from the picture of proteins that we see in textbooks. Our view is that IDPs do possess native structure that is responsible for imparting their specific functions; describing these structures simply requires a broadening of the traditionally narrow structure-function paradigm, beyond the current models developed for cooperatively folding systems. To better understand the function of IDPs, our laboratory utilizes a biophysical approach. We apply the principles and quantitative laws of physical chemistry to understand the systems and processes of biochemistry that IDPs control. Specifically, we are interested in how disordered regions in transcription factors and the enzymes associated with transcription regulate eukaryotic gene expression. This seminar will review some of our recent success in establishing sequence-to-structure-to-function relationships for IDPs that contribute to transcription, while highlighting the biomedical implications of our findings.

Chemistry is the scientific investigation of the composition of matter and its transformations. Chemistry is at the heart of modern scientific and technical inquiry--from the composition of distant stars, to geochemical transformations taking place deep within our own planet, to modern pharmaceuticals and high-performance materials, to our own bodies. Indeed, chemistry is often dubbed the "central science," as knowledge of modern chemistry is key to advances in fields as diverse as geology, neuroscience, molecular biology, and materials science.

Students who major in chemistry at Skidmore College will graduate with a strong foundation in the chemical sciences, with hands-on experience using modern instrumentation such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and with experience in conducing research and the opportunity to participate in internships to refine their skills.

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