"Putting the Squeeze on Biology: Biomolecules Under Pressure" by Sol Gruner (Cornell University)

Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Thursdays, 4:00-5:00 pm

1-434 Physics and Astronomy (map)
Reception from 3:30-4:00 p.m.
(unless otherwise posted)

Guest Speaker:  Sol M. Gruner (Cornell University)

Talk Title:  “Putting the Squeeze on Biology: Biomolecules Under Pressure”


Modest pressures encountered in the biosphere (i.e., at the bottom of the oceans) have extraordinary effects on biological molecules and assemblies. These include pressure denaturation of proteins, as well as dramatic changes in protein monomer-multimer association, substrate binding, membrane ion transport, transcription/translation of DNA & RNA, virus infectivity, enzyme kinetics, and conformational states of proteins. Yet practically all the biomolecules involved are highly incompressible. The challenge is to understand how pressure affects structure and to elucidate the relevant physical mechanisms for the observed effects even though the volume changes are very small. X-ray diffraction studies of membranes and proteins under pressure will be described. It is seen that the key point is not the magnitude of the structural changes, but rather the differential compressibility of different parts of the structure. Examples will be given of pressure studies on biomembranes and proteins.

For more information, contact Karoly Holczer


1-434 PAB