QBI - Seminar

Protein Stability In Living Cells and Under Crowded Conditions In Vitro

Hosted by Drs. Jim Wells and Bill Degrado, QBI presents a seminar with Gary Pielak, a Kenan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Pielak earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Michael Smith at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and in the laboratory of Robert J.P. Williams at the University of Oxford in England. He joined UNC in 1989. Among his many notable awards, one he is especially proud of is his 2017 University Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement. His research focuses on understanding protein chemistry in cells and under crowded conditions in vitro.

The crowded and complex environment in cells is predicted to affect protein behavior compared to dilute buffer. Dr. Pielak's laboratory and their collaborators are examining crowding effects on the stability of proteins and their complexes in cells and under physiologically-relevant crowded conditions using NMR. A challenge in these endeavors is detecting the test protein in a sea of crowders. 19F-NMR is ideally suited to overcome this challenge and provide high quality data on folded- and unfolded- proteins as well as free and bound forms of complexes. Dr. Pielak will focus on equilibrium data acquired in living Escherichia coli cells, Xenopus laevis and Danio rerio oocytes as well as in vitro in concentrated cosolute solutions. The cosolutes include synthetic polymers and their monomers, other proteins and lyophilized cytosol. The results show that crowding affects folding and binding in ways not always correctly predicted by simple models, and he will briefly introduce a new model that explains the data.

Talk Title: Protein Stability In Living Cells and Under Crowded Conditions In Vitro

Hosts: Jim Wells and Bill DeGrado

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