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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
8:00 pm
Beckman Auditorium – Beckman Auditorium

Shu-ou Shan: Decision Making and Quality Control in Early Moments of a Protein's Life

Proteins are the workhorses that carry out the vast majority of our cellular functions, and their proper production and balance is essential for the survival of all cells. Just as the first three years of a child's development have a profound impact on the rest of his/her life, the first new moments of a protein's life has a profound impact on its future. As a nascent protein emerges from the ribosome, the protein synthesis machinery in our cells, numerous cellular factors vie at the ribosome exit site to gain access to the newly-synthesized protein and to influence its structure, assembly, localization, maturation and quality control. Within seconds to minutes, a newly synthesized protein must be correctly identified, engaged with the proper cellular machinery, and thus committed to the correct biogenesis pathways.

These early events play a critical role in preventing the onset of numerous diseases rooted in defective protein homeostasis. Dr. Shan will discuss examples from her and others' research that illustrate how proper decision-making and quality control are achieved in the precious few moments of a protein's life. These examples illustrate general principles by which our cells ensure the enormous efficiency and exquisite fidelity of biological processes, thereby building the order and organization essential for sustaining life.

Shu-ou San is a professor of chemistry at Caltech.

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Presented By: Caltech Committee on Institute Programs

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