The Life and Death of Proteins:
The viability of a cell, and therefore an organism, depends upon the proper synthesis, and ultimately the destruction, of the proteins therein. This course will focus on understanding how proteins are made and degraded in the cell, and will emphasize what happens in-between — how proteins fold, function, and localize to their proper cellular compartment(s). We will delve into the fundamental primary papers that mark early as well as recent progress in these areas, focusing on critical reading and analysis of the experimental design and conclusions; students will produce written paper critiques, present papers, and lead paper discussions. The role that molecular chaperones, the guardians of the cell, play in each important phase of the life of a protein will feature prominently in this course. Sample topics to be explored include: How do proteins fold? How do chaperones contribute to protein folding? How do proteins get to the proper cellular location? How are proteins degraded? We will also discuss the relevance of these topics to human diseases linked to protein misfolding, mislocalization, and/or aggregation including cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease.