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Protein Structure and Function

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Areas of Science
Time Required
Very Long (1+ months)
Advanced biology course, or willingness to read up on such topics extensively.
Material Availability
A computer with Internet access is necessary for this project.
Very Low (under $20)
No issues
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How a biological system functions is a consequence of the 3-D structures of biological macromolecules like proteins and protein complexes. Proteins can be categorized into different protein families based upon sequence, structure, and function. Typically, proteins in the same family have similar biochemical functions. You can investigate the structure of a protein by using protein databases (Entrez Protein, SwissProt, PDB) and 3-D computational models. You can compare the structures of different proteins with similar function to see if they have similar geometries, like molecules that bind ATP or DNA. You can compare homologous proteins from different species to see how the structure varies by searching the PDB taxonomic database. You can also search for proteins that are linked to a particular disease in PDB, and compare the normal and abnormal structures. Many proteins in the PDB database have structural data for different mutations, so you can compare the mutant structures to identify structurally important residues. When choosing a protein of interest from the structure database, consider the following questions. Does the protein occur in different conformations or isoforms? Is there a model of the active site, substrate or ligand? Is the protein part of a larger protein complex? Is there a structure that has been solved with a mutation, ion or ligand? Is the protein part of a larger family of proteins with similar structures? Are there structures available of homologous proteins from different species? Are there portions of the protein which are conserved between different species? Are there any mutations which may cause a change in 3-D structure? Are there any post-translational modifications that may affect structure, like phosphorylation or ubiquitination? (PDB, 2006)


PDB, 2006. "Structural Genomics Information Portal," The Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank (RCSB PDB) [accessed 3/25/06] http://sg.pdb.org/.
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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Protein Structure and Function." Science Buddies, 28 July 2017, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/BioChem_p021/biotechnology-techniques/protein-structure-and-function. Accessed 7 June 2023.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2017, July 28). Protein Structure and Function. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/BioChem_p021/biotechnology-techniques/protein-structure-and-function

Last edit date: 2017-07-28
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