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Basic Molecular Biology

Basic Molecular Biology

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Basic Molecular Biology

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  1. (Borrowed from “An Introduction to Bioinformatics Algorithms” by Neil C. Jones and Pavel A. Pevzner and further modified by Prof.NatalioKrasnogor) Basic Molecular Biology

  2. Outline For Section 1: • All living things are made of Cells • Prokaryote, Eukaryote • Cell Signaling • What is Inside the cell: From DNA, to RNA, to Proteins

  3. Cells Hard Fact! No pre-medieval fairy tales like ID, Adam&Eve, etc For more information: “The Major Transitions in Evolution” by M. Smith and E. Szathmary • Fundamental working units of every living system. • Every organism is composed of one of two radically different types of cells: prokaryoticcells or eukaryotic cells. • Prokaryotesand Eukaryotesare descended from the same primitive cell. • All extant prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are the result of a total of 3.5 billion years of evolution by natural selection.

  4. Cells • Chemical composition-by weight • 70% water • 7% small molecules • salts • Lipids • amino acids • nucleotides • 23% macromolecules • Proteins • Polysaccharides • lipids

  5. Life begins with Cell • A cell is the smallest structural unit of an organism that is capable of sustained independent functioning • All cells have some common features • What is Life? Can we create it in the lab? Read: The imitation game—a computational chemical approach to recognizing life. Nature Biotechnology, 24:1203-1206, 2006

  6. 2 types of cells: Prokaryotes & Eukaryotes

  7. All Cells have common Cycles • Born, eat, replicate, and die

  8. Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes • According to the most recent evidence, there are three main branches to the tree of life. • Prokaryotes include Archaea (“ancient ones”) and bacteria. • Eukaryotes are kingdom Eukarya and includes plants, animals, fungi and certain algae.

  9. Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes, continued

  10. Prokaryotes Eubacterial (blue green algae) and archaebacteria only one type of membrane-- plasma membrane forms the boundary of the cell proper The smallest cells known are bacteria Ecoli cell 3x106 protein molecules 1000-2000 polypeptide species. Eukaryotes plants, animals, Protista, and fungi complex systems of internal membranes forms organelle and compartments The volume of the cell is several hundred times larger Hela cell 5x109 protein molecules 5000-10,000 polypeptide species Prokaryotes v.s. EukaryotesStructural differences

  11. Signaling Pathways: Control Gene Activity • Instead of having brains, cells make decisions through complex networks of chemical reactions, called pathways • Synthesize new materials • Break other materials down for spare parts • Signal to eat, die, reproduce, sporulate, etc • Even Bacteria are smart entities. Read: Bacteria Harnessing Complexity by E. Ben-Jacob and colleagues

  12. Example of cell signaling

  13. Cells Information and Machinery • Cells store all information to replicate itself • Human genome is around 3 billions base pairs long • Almost every cell in human body contains same set of genes • But not all genes are used or expressed by those cells • Machinery: • Collect and manufacture components • Carry out replication • Kick-start its new offspring (A cell is like a car factory but FAR more complex and efficient)

  14. Overview of organizations of life • Nucleus = library • Chromosomes = bookshelves • Genes = books • Almost every cell in an organism contains the same libraries and the same sets of books. • Books represent all the information (DNA) that every cell in the body needs so it can grow and carry out its various functions. • Moreover, more recent discoveries suggest that the books, bookshelves and libraries are not passive waiting to be read but are, sometimes, rewriting and rewiring themselves!

  15. Terminology • The genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA. • a bacteria contains about 600,000 DNA base pairs • human and mouse genomes have some 3 billion. • human genome has 23 distinct chromosomes. • Each chromosome contains many genes. • Gene • basic physical and functional units of heredity. • specific sequences of DNA bases that encode instructions on how and when to make proteins. • Proteins • Make up the cellular structure • large, complex molecules made up of smaller subunits called amino acids.

  16. All Life depends on 3 critical molecules • DNAs • Hold information on how cell works • RNAs • Act to transfer short pieces of information to different parts of cell • Provide templates to synthesize into protein • Proteins • Form enzymes that send signals to other cells and regulate gene activity • Form body’s major components (e.g. hair, skin, etc.) • Are life’s laborers! • Computationally, all three can be represented as sequences of a certain 4-letter (DNA/RNA) or 20-letter (Proteins) alphabet

  17. DNA, RNA, and the Flow of Information Replication Transcription Translation Weismann Barrier / Central Dogma of Molecular Biology

  18. Overview of DNA to RNA to Protein • A gene is expressed in two steps • Transcription: RNA synthesis • Translation: Protein synthesis

  19. DNA: The Basis of Life • Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) • Double stranded with complementary strands A-T, C-G • DNA is a polymer • Sugar-Phosphate-Base • Bases held together by H bonding to the opposite strand

  20. RNA • RNA is similar to DNA chemically. It is usually only a single strand. T(hyamine) is replaced by U(racil) • Some forms of RNA can form secondary structures by“pairing up” with itself. This can have impact on its properties dramatically. DNA and RNA can pair with each other. tRNA linear and 3D view:

  21. RNA, continued Several types exist, classified by function: • hnRNA (heterogeneous nuclear RNA): Eukaryotic mRNA primary transcipts with introns that have not yet been excised (pre-mRNA). • mRNA: this is what is usually being referred to when a Bioinformatician says “RNA”. This is used to carry a gene’s message out of the nucleus. • tRNA: transfers genetic information from mRNA to an amino acid sequence as to build a protein • rRNA: ribosomal RNA. Part of the ribosome which is involved in translation.

  22. Transcription • Transcription is highly regulated. Most DNA is in a dense form where it cannot be transcribed. • To start, transcription requires a promoter, a small specific sequence of DNA to which polymerase can bind (~40 base pairs “upstream” of gene) • Finding these promoter regions is only a partially solved problem that is related to motif finding. • There can also be repressors and inhibitors acting in various ways to stop transcription. This makes regulation of gene transcription complex to understand.

  23. Definition of a Gene • Regulatory regions: up to 50 kb upstream of +1 site • Exons: protein coding and untranslated regions (UTR) 1 to 178 exons per gene (mean 8.8) 8 bp to 17 kb per exon (mean 145 bp) • Introns: splice acceptor and donor sites, junk DNA average 1 kb – 50 kb per intron • Gene size: Largest – 2.4 Mb (Dystrophin). Mean – 27 kb.

  24. Splicing

  25. Splicing and other RNA processing • In Eukaryotic cells, RNA is processed between transcription and translation. • This complicates the relationship between a DNA gene and the protein it codes for. • Sometimes alternate RNA processing can lead to an alternate protein (splice variants) as a result. This is true in the immune system.

  26. Structural Proteins: the organism's basic building blocks, eg. collagen, nails, hair, etc. • Enzymes: biological engines which mediate multitude of biochemical reactions. Usually enzymes are very specific and catalyze only a single type of reaction, but they can play a role in more than one pathway. • Transmembrane proteins: they are the cell’s housekeepers, eg. By regulating cell volume, extraction and concentration of small molecules from the extracellular environment and generation of ionic gradients essential for muscle and nerve cell function (sodium/potasium pump is an example) • Proteins are polypeptide chains, constructed by joining a certain kind of peptides, amino acids, in a linear way • The chain of amino acids, however folds to create very complex 3D structures Proteins: Crucial molecules for the functioning of life

  27. Translation • The process of going from RNA to polypeptide. • Three base pairs of RNA (called a codon) correspond to one amino acid based on a fixed table. • Always starts with Methionine and ends with a stop codon

  28. Amino Acids

  29. Protein Structure: Introduction • Different amino acids have different properties • These properties will affect the protein structure and function • Hydrophobicity, for instance, is the main driving force (but not the only one) of the folding process


  31. Protein Structure: Why is structure important? • The function of a protein depends greatly on its structure • The structure that a protein adopts is vital to it’s chemistry • Its structure determines which of its amino acids are exposed to carry out the protein’s function • Its structure also determines what substrates it can react with

  32. Protein Structure: Mostly lacking information • Therefore, it is clear that knowing the structure of a protein is crucial for many tasks • However, we only know the structure for a very small fraction of all the proteins that we are aware of • The UniProtKB/TrEMBL archive contains 23165610 (16886838)sequences • The PDB archive of protein structure contains only 84223(76669)structures • In the native state, proteins fold on its own as soon as they are generated, amino-acid by amino-acid (with few exceptions e.g. chaperones)  can we predict this process as to close the gap between protein sequences and their 3D structures?

  33. Central Dogma of Biology: A Bioinformatics Perspective The information for making proteins is stored in DNA. There is a process (transcription and translation) by which DNA is converted to protein. By understanding this process and how it is regulated we can make predictions and models of cells. Assembly Protein Sequence/Structure Analysis Sequence analysis Gene Finding Computational Problems