I was lucky enough to become affiliated with the “Lee” lab at UNC – Chapel Hill. The lab is associated with the Medical School and School of Pharmacy. I will be researching how proteins function. This is coincidentally the direction in which my research for the past seven years was heading. Here is a copy and paste of an overview of our work and a photo of my new lab space:
“We study the role of conformational dynamics in protein function, conformational changes, enzyme catalysis, drug binding, and allostery. We use a variety of biophysical and biochemical tools, especially NMR spectroscopy. Research in the laboratory is centered on understanding the role of structural dynamics in protein function. In past decades, proteins were essentially viewed as static structures. Today, they are widely appreciated to be dynamic ensembles of interconverting structures. Such behavior can be clearly seen in proteins that undergo dramatic shape changes in different functional states. However, the effects of dynamics can also be important when the structural changes are less apparent. The ensemble nature of proteins has far-reaching implications for understanding basic natural protein functions such as ligand binding, enzyme catalysis, and allostery. An understanding of protein dynamics should lead to improvements in protein engineering and rational drug design.”
My Phase VII research earned the Top Project Award and an opportunity for me to attend ISEF for a third time. I was able to prove that EGCG binds to the 67LR Protein which causes cancer to be aggressive and metastasize. The binding can prevent 67LR from causing metastasis. Now, I want to grow 67LR crystals and crystals of the 67LR-EGCG complex and obtain x-ray diffractometer images. . . .
Today, I was able to use BLI (Biolayer Interferometry) to finally prove that the 67LR Protein I produced in the lab is bound by EGCG. This is why the breast and cervical cancer cells in Phase IV of the research did not proliferate. . .and died! Just to be thorough, I will have to go back to the lab and run the tests at varied concentrations. Now EGCG’s function has been proven.
Getting more work done these days because my Senior Magnet Internship is at my lab at KSU. I get to continue my work at an accelerated rate since I spend at least half of the day in the lab. Getting closer to producing the protein by designing different primers and running directed transmutations. . . .