Biological Molecules

1. Ridley, C. (2020) ‘Mucus: helpful goo or deadly glue?’, Biological Sciences Review, 33 (2), pp.22-25.
Mucus lines the epithelial surfaces in the body that are exposed to the environment, including the respiratory, digestive and urogenital tracts. Biochemist Caroline Ridley describes how changes in the protective mucous barrier in the respiratory tract transform the mucus into a thick, sticky gel that can cause serious health problems.

2. Hart, A. (2019) ‘Evaluating experiments: the Miller-Urey experiment’, Biological Sciences Review, 32 (1), pp.34-37.
Professor Adam Hart explains how, by changing the conditions used by Miller and Urey in the 1850s, researchers have recently managed to make the building blocks of RNA and DNA.

3. Quinn, J. (2019) ‘Tau protein: microtubule supporter or dementia driver’, Biological Sciences Review, 32 (2), pp.22-25.
The tau protein, crucial for maintaining the structure of brain cells, malfunctions in dementia. Neuroscientist James Quinn explains changes in tau that result in the death of brain cells and how we can use this knowledge to improve dementia diagnosis.

4. Wallis, K. (2019) ‘Uncoupling mitochondria turns up the heat’, Biological Sciences Review, 32 (1), pp.30-33.
In eukaryotes, including animals and plants, the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) largely reflects the actions of mitochondria and chloroplasts. The energy usually transferred into the phosphate bonds of ATP can, alternatively, lead to the production of heat. This is accomplished through the actions of special proteins called uncouplers. Senior teaching fellow Katrine Wallis explains this remarkable process.

5. McKenna, M. (2017) ‘How do you get your energy? Taking a closer look at ATP synthase’, Biological Sciences Review, 29 (4), pp.22-26.
Biochemist Michael McKenna discusses techniques borrowed from physicists that are being used to look inside proteins, and describes how this has helped us to figure out how adenosine triphosphate – our body’s energy currency – is produced.

6. O’Keefe, R. (2017) ‘Cellular ninjas regulate gene expression’, Biological Sciences Review, 30 (2), pp.2-6.
RNA interference – RNAi – acts like a Ninja by dicing and slicing up messenger RNAs, preventing them from being translated into proteins. This article explains how RNAi works, how RNAi regulates processes in human cells and how scientists are exploiting RNAi to treat diseases.

7. Cain, K. and Holdsworth, G. (2014) ‘Treating disease with recombinant proteins’, Biological Sciences Review, 26 (4), pp.22-25.
Pharmaceutical experts Katharine Cain and Gill Holdsworth explain how recombinant proteins are made and how the discovery of a rare genetic mutation in humans, together with recombinant antibody technology, has opened the way towards possible treatments for patients suffering from chronic pain.

8. Ellis, J. (2014) ‘Protein folding: principles and problems’, Biological Sciences Review, 27 (1), pp.2-5.
Protein folding is one of the most important biological processes because it converts the linear information encoded in genes into the three-dimensional structures that give proteins their functional properties. Biochemist John Ellis explains how proteins fold, and introduces how problems with the process can lead to disease.

9. Graham, S. (2014) ‘MicroRNAs: small players in big diseases’, Biological Sciences Review, 27 (1), pp.22-25.
Small molecules called miRNAs play a key role in development. miRNAs have been the focus of new research owing to the discovery that they play a role in cancer and other diseases. RNA biologist Sheila Graham explains what microRNAs are, what they do and how they might be used as therapies for disease.

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