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Consider a spherical mad cow: a physicist looks at amyloid matter

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Date and time Oct 09, 2008
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Location McLennan Physics (MP) 102
Host Kenneth Burch

Daniel Cox

Abstract:

CollOct09Amyloid matter, a ubiquitous state of proteins in which they self-assemble into ``universal cross beta’’ structures, is involved in nearly forty disease such as Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow and other prion disorders, Parkinson’s, Huntingtons, and type II diabetes, as well as in biologically useful materials such as spider silk, biocolony forming amyloid networks in E. Coli and salmonella, surface tension modulating structures in fungi and bacteria, antifreeze proteins in insects, and heritable structures in fungi which are not defined by any genome. The formation of amyloid matter may be more a general route for protein ordering than the folding of individual proteins in the celebrated funneled energy landscape. The physico-chemical process of amyloid aggregation is amenable to theoretical modeling without an ``overhead’’ of extensive biological processes, particularly for the prion and Huntington’s diseases. Prion diseases are especially fascinating since there is considerable evidence that they are infectious in a route involving only proteins, in contrast to the ``germ’’ model of pathology. In this colloquium I will introduce the data and concepts relevant to amyloid matter, describe the picture of protein folding in a funneled landscape and contrast that with an overview of possible organizing principles for amyloid matter, and describe some of the work in our group involving the theory of prion disease kinetics and molecular models for prion based amyloid matter.

*- Work done in collaboration with R.R.P. Singh, S. Yang, H. Levine, J. Onuchic, R.V. Kulkarni, D.L. Mobley, J. Pan, K. Kunes, C. Trevisan, R. Hayre, F. Pazmandi, and A. Slepoy, and supported by NIH Regional Alzheimer’s Seed Grant, NSF IGERT on Nanoparticles in the Environment, Agriculture, and Technology, NSF Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (UCSD), the Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter (ICAM), and US Army Congressionally Mandated Biomedical Research Award

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