Rachel Martin, Professor and Vice Chair of Chemistry at the University of California Irvine, will deliver a seminar entitled, "The biophysics of cataract formation and new NMR instrumentation to see through it." Hosted by Alexej Jerschow.
For more information about Rachel Martin, click here.
Abstract: The optical power of the vertebrate eye lens is generated by the crystallins, exceptionally soluble proteins that are packed in at very high concentration (up to about 50% protein in humans, and even higher in fish). The extraordinary solubility of these proteins is even more remarkable given that the lens has almost no protein turnover: crystallin proteins have to last for a lifetime. When crystallins do aggregate, the result is cataract, a major cause of blindness worldwide. Understanding both the transparent hydrogel of the healthy lens and the aggregates of the disease state is critical for developing next-generation artificial lenses as well as non-surgical treatment options. I will present our recent structural and biophysical work on lens protein optical properties, mutations involved in hereditary cataract, the impact of oxidative damage, and the complex relationship among different types of post-translational modifications. I will also discuss the NMR instrumentation we have developed to study semi-solid protein systems of this type that are not amenable to either standard solid-state or solution techniques.