Biochemistry and Data Analysis Project

 

The atomic details of proteins, giant molecules playing a vital role in all processes of life, are discovered using a technique known as X-ray Crystallography. The success of this technique depends on the ability to force millions of molecules of a same type into an extremely ordered 3D array, a protein crystal. Thus, it is very important for scientists in this field to be able to grow crystals out of a liquid protein solution.

 

The crystallization of proteins is not, in general very straightforward. It is safe to say that at the beginning of a project it is not possible to know whether the protein under study will crystallize. There are some laboratory experiments known as assays that can help to improve planning towards the achievement of this important goal. One of them is called CPM assay. In a nutshell, this is a technique used to determine at which temperature a protein starts unfolding, i.e. starts to change its stable shape. Knowledge of this temperature suggests optimal temperatures at which crystallization is more likely to occur.

 

In the project here suggested the student will run CPM assays for two types of proteins using modern and computerised laboratory equipment. The students will, subsequently, analyse the data collected, organise them with a statistical computer program and infer the main results of the study. Working on this project will give students a unique opportunity to learn fundamental facts from an important scientific research area and to gain first-hand experience from modern methodological techniques used by scientists in this field.