Meet PETase!

In honor of Plastic Free July, allow me to introduce PETase! PETase is an enzyme that eats plastic. Specifically, it dines on polyethylene terephthalate, the kind of plastic that most "disposable" water bottles are made of. from PDB 5XJH PETase was recently discovered (in 2016) in species of bacteria called Ideonella sakaiensis. It's believed that …

Meet Keratin!

You have probably heard of keratin before--it is the protein that makes up your hair and nails. It also makes up hooves, antlers, horns, and feathers. It is classified as a filamentous protein (because it forms filaments). Keratin is found in structures such as horns, hooves, and hair. Keratin filaments look a bit like rope …

Meet Rubisco!

Rubisco is found in the chloroplasts of plant cells where it plays a key role in photosynthesis. Rubisco works in the chloroplasts of plant cells Remember that photosynthesis is the process plants (and some bacteria) use to build glucose sugar molecules using CO2 and energy from light. Plants can't just stitch a bunch of raw …

Meet Cas9!

You may have heard of Cas9 before in discussions and news about gene editing with CRISPR! (The two women who established how to use CRISPR-Cas9 in the lab won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.) In nature, CRISPR is a bacterial acquired immune system. It recognizes invading DNA, like from viruses for example, and "saves" …

Meet E Cadherin!

E Cadherin is a membrane protein that helps cells stick to other cells at cell junctions. Cell junctions are critical for forming and maintaining healthy tissues. Could you imagine if your skin cells suddenly couldn't stick together?! E Cadherin is one of the proteins that makes sure our skin, and every other part of our …

Meet ATP Synthase!

ATP synthase is a really, really important protein for life. That's because it makes ATP molecules, which are like the energy currency of the molecular world. (Essentially, ATP = Energy!) As you may expect, ATP synthase works in the inner membranes of mitochondria. If mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, ATP synthase is the …