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Dr. Lila M. Gierasch (from University of Massachusetts at Amherst), "Moving the Protein Folding Problem from the Test Tube to the Cell"

Date: 09/16/10
Time: 3:30-6 p.m.
Audience: Public
Sponsored By: School of Science and Engineering
Location: Coykendall Science Building Auditorium
Contact: Dr. Julio J. Gonzalez, x3724,

Over the past decades, considerable progress has been made in our fundamental understanding of protein-folding leading to the current “energy landscape” view. Simultaneously, the last decade has seen explosive progress in the characterization of pathophysiologies related to misfolding and the formation of protein aggregates, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other amyloid diseases. There is an urgent need to link our fundamental grasp of the behaviors of polypeptide chains in defined media to the successful maintenance of functional, folded proteins in the highly concentrated, complex environment of the cell. The complexities of the cellular environment present major technical challenges to studies of protein-folding and misfolding in vivo. We are developing approaches to tackle these challenges using, as a case study, a predominantly β-sheet protein whose in-vitro folding we have explored in detail. This talk will describe the primary reporter system we have used to observe folding and aggregation in cells and what we have learned about factors that influence in vivo folding and aggregation. Additionally, the talk will describe our recent efforts to model the network of folding, aggregation, and chaperone interactions in E. coli. Dr. Lila M. Gierasch is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and in the Department of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Reception and Merck/AAAS USRP Student Poster Session at the CSB Lobby: 3:30 PM; Lecture: 4:30 PM