Monday, March 3, 2014

Did You Know?

Qualifying exams continue to creep closer and my studying continues to progress. I am actually making progress to catch back up to my original plan of study, just over a week behind. I should be able to close that gap before bed tonight. But I thought I would take a break and provide some highlights from all of the studying I have done this past few months.

  •  Photosystem II is still the most awesome part of biochemistry and completely unappreciated in your basic biochemistry textbook. Photosystem II captures light energy, and passes the excited electron down the pathway like a hot potato! Did you know scientist's can actually measure how quickly a single electron is passed from QA to QB?
  • Protein degradation is a big deal to cells, it keeps unwanted/damaged proteins from building up and allows their building blocks to be recycled. When you consider that cells need to change rapidly to changing conditions, the need to breakdown no longer relevant proteins makes sense. Did you know that some proteins have a half-life of only 30 seconds? 
  • Complex III of the electron transport chain is just photosystem II in disguise, just not as cool since it does not capture light. But did you know that what it does do is help balance the electron flow by breaking up a pair of traveling electrons into two individual and independent electrons?
  • There is a set code that dictates how genes stored in the cell are turned into proteins that do the work. This code is based on 3 letter words called codons, composed from the 4 character nucleotide alphabet (A, C, T, U). But did you know there is actually a fifth character (I), that allows a "wobble" pairing which makes the code more like guidelines than actual rules. 
  • The human genome is composed of 23 chromosomes with a total genome content of about 3.3x10^9 basepair long. But did you know that about 1% of that is used for encoding protein?
  • While not really a cool fact, did you know there is a lot of math in biochemistry? So many pages devoted to free energy, reaction kinetics, Hill equation, equilibrium... been a long time since I worried about so many numbers!
There you have my brief thoughts and fun facts picked up from studying. If there are any of these topics you would like explained in more detail in a future blog post, leave a comment or drop me an email! 

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