Sep 28, 2011

A sweet lesson on ligand-protein binding affinities

When I was learning biochemistry in college (from good ol' Lehninger's Principles of Biochemistry), the section on protein function, protein binding affinities and dissociation constants with pKas and Kds being thrown around was a little hard to follow without good examples.  I thought this story on the miracle berry's 'magical' effects might help any of you out there who are trying to learn about protein function and binding affinities:

Miracle Berry’s Sour-Sweet Mystery Cracked

Then ask yourself:
- Does the miraculin or sugar has a higher binding affinity?  
- Which one has a higher Kd?
- If miraculin can only activate its receptor, hT1R2-hT1R3, at a low pH, can you guesstimate the pKa value is of the amino acid(s) on miraculin responsible for activating the hT1R2/hT1R3 receptors?

For the science nerds, here's the free, open-access original article out in PNAS that's out early ahead of the print date:
Human sweet taste receptor mediates acid-induced sweetness of miraculin

1 comment:

  1. Hey Saori!
    Inspired in part by your science-blogging project, I just started a little blog of my own that's all about plants: "A bouquet from Mendel," so it was fun to learn more about miraculin here. I also thought you might be interested in checking out collection of blogs about peer-reviewed research, where this post would fit right in. It's been helping me start to find a community. Hope things are going well with the axolotls!