Mathematical Biology Seminar

David Goldenberg,
Biology, University of Utah
Wednesday Nov. 18, 2009
3:05pm in LCB 225
Unfolded Proteins, Random Walks and Fractal Dimensions

Abstract: Although it is usually the well-defined folded structures of proteins that are associated with biological function, there is growing interest in the properties of unfolded proteins, which are best described as broad ensembles of rapidly interconverting structures. These ensembles serve as the starting point for folding and as the reference state for most measurements of protein stability. In addition, non-native states are now known to play important roles in normal cellular processes, including protein localization and degradation, as well as pathological processes such as the formation of amyloid fibers associated with many neurodegenerative diseases. We are using a combination of computational and experimental techniques to obtain a more complete understanding of the distributions of conformations that make up an unfolded state. The relatively simple mathematical concepts of random walks and fractal dimensions provide a framework for comparing the computational and experimental results.