The study of chemistry within the scope of biology: the compounds that occur and the reactions involving them in living organisms.

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Why insects are so energy-efficient while flying?

Why are insects so energy-efficient while flying? Is it because of their light weight and aerodynamics or due to very efficient biochemical transformations (food->energy)?
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Why don't phospholipid bilayers dissolve?

I just started learning about the structure and composition of cell's membrane and there is something that I fail to understand. The membrane is composed of a phospholipid bilayer. The phospholipid ...
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291 views

What alternatives are there to the amyloid hypothesis?

Given the recent failure of the Bapi clinical trial, there is a lot of questions that have arised from he amyloid hypothesis. However, I can't really think of many other mechanisms that don't involved ...
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127 views

Free Radicals for aging

From my understanding free radicals play a slight role in ageing. In what ways are they so damaging, and can a restricted diet reduce production of free radicals?
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Why is oxygen needed for the electron transfer phosphorylation?

I understand that oxygen is the acceptor of electrons and hydrogen ions during the electron transfer phosphorylation, the last step off the ATP-producing aerobic respiration. But why? Aren't there ...
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588 views

How to compute properties of peptides ?

I have been tasked with writing a program for computing properties of a give set of peptides. These peptides are given as 1-letter amino acid sequences and I need to compute the following : Length ...
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227 views

Is fluoride toxic, and how worried should I be about it?

A recent flurry of "fluoride is bad!" posts are appearing on my social network news feeds. Usually I can simply ignore them after a brief look, but this one, stemming from a recent article in The ...
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What is an irreversible reaction?

There are reactions with large Delta G negative values. Why these reactions are irreversible? As in: out of 10 steps of Glycolysis, 3 are irreversible steps. I need an explanation for why they are ...
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662 views

When giving blood, what is the specific Iron measurement they take?

I went to give blood the other day, and they take an "iron" measurement prior to actually drawing the blood. My level was 16.4 -- but what specific type of iron were they measuring? I've heard of ...
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159 views

What makes a wet dog so stinky?

Similarly, what makes a wet down comforter so stinky? Why do they make no smell except when liquid is added?
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170 views

Is cyanocobalamin toxic?

I see that cyanocobalamin is not naturally occurring, and is synthesized in vivo to methylcobalamin. As part of the synthetic pathway, cyanide is broken off. All opinions I can find are that this ...
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373 views

HIV and effectiveness of inhibitor cocktail over single inhibitor

I'm looking for clarification on the answer to this question. It's in my biochemistry class but I figured this is more Biology than Chemistry, so I'm asking it here. The question is: One of the ...
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Why does the heart use lipids (and not glucose)?

Fetal hearts use glucose as their primary metabolic substrate. Adult hearts use free fatty acids, which are less efficient (require more $O_2$ to synthesize the same amount of ATP); however, during ...
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Is there a binding affinity metric for interactions not in equilibria?

I am investigating the strength of binding of a small peptide to a protein by isolating the bound version and subjecting it to collisions with gas molecules (CID mass spectrometry) to dissociate the ...
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Why isn't the phosphoglycerate kinase reaction of the glycolysis pathway irreversible?

Step 7 of the glycolysis pathway is the conversion of 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate into 3-phosphoglycerate by the action of the enzyme phosphoglycerate kinase, resulting in the production of 2 ATP ...
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Molecularly, why can you straighten or perm hair?

I'm aware that hair can be curly because of the disulfide bond interactions in between cysteine amino acids in alpha-keratin filaments. However, I'm curious as to the biochemistry involved in ...
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159 views

Mechanism by which $lacI^{d}$ is a dominant mutation, impairing the function of normal copies of the Lac Repressor

Jacob-Monod model for the lac Operon was based on experiments using two strands of bacteria which constitutively expressed $\beta$-gal: $I^{c}$(mutation in the gene lacI , which encodes the repressor) ...
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Bacterial cell lysis - what solution to use?

I am trying to determine how quickly detergents act on bacterial cells (cell lysis). I would like to compare some detergents at difference concentrations for bacteriolytic activity. I don’t care about ...
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Single hormone opposite effects

Often, a smooth response to a hormone means that some processes must be sped up and others must be slowed down. How can a single hormone have opposite effects like this?
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591 views

What is the origin of “melting” in molecular genetics?

I'm reading some papers about prokaryotic transcription mechanisms, and I've come across a term I haven't heard before: DNA melting or promoter melting. After reading a bit, it's pretty clear that ...
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805 views

How can I measure bacterial alkaline phosphatase activity?

I want to measure alkaline phosphatase activity using PNPP in my mutant bacteria strains, but all the protocols I found involve purification of the phosphatase (which I have no need of). Does anyone ...
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882 views

What exactly happens if during translation, an amino acid is not present?

Lets say that the cell wants to make a particular protein. Transcription of the appropriate gene is done and the mRNA is made. mRNA attaches to the ribosome and the translation is initiated in a ...
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206 views

Decreasing the alcohol proof and faster in hangover, why?

My russian friend says that the USSR agents used/use the trick that they offered the victim first vodka and then last wine. I have noted that this puts you faster to hangover: decreasing the alcohol ...
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401 views

Protein construct design

I am trying to create some constructs of a certain protein deleting well defined domains (at either terminus) to determine interaction regions with other proteins etc., 3 constructs with varying ...
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Does consuming sodium benzoate (preservative E211) cause problems during pregnancy?

There seems to be strong evidence to support the claim that sodium benzoate (E211) causes hyperactivity in young children, e.g. Bateman et al. (2004) and McCann et al. (2007). This leads me to ...
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319 views

Does cooking ginger reduce its anti-nausea effect?

There seems to be strong evidence to support the hypothesis that eating ginger helps reduce nausea e.g. during pregnancy (e.g. Vutyavanich et al.). It seems that gingerol is the active ingredient in ...
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How can I produce milligram quantities of an isotope-labeled DNA oligomer?

I'd like to produce a specific DNA sequence on a milligram-scale and 13C15N-label it. The sequence is around 35 nucleotides long, so chemical synthesis is out due to the exorbitant costs. I'm also ...
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About acetyl-coA in the Krebs Cycle of respiration

In respiration, Krebs cycle starts with acetyl coenzyme A which is made from pyruvate. However, it is said that the cycle keeps repeat it self with oxaloacetate turning back to citrate and cycle ...
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Permeability of Plasma Membrane

I’m having trouble grasping why small polar molecules can cross the hydrophobic region of the membrane and not ions. Won’t the polar molecules be attracted to the watery extracellular medium and not ...
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Excretion of monovalent and divalent ions in sharks

I have heard that sharks excrete $\ce{Na+}$ and $\ce{Cl-}$ by their gill surfaces but divalent ions like magnesium are excreted through feces. What could be the reason behind this?
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Making penicillin using animals - specifically, a goat

In the scifi novel Lucifer's Hammer, one of the characters (a biologist, if I remember correctly) finds himself in a post-apocalyptic world and tries to make penicillin to save his own life. To do ...
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230 views

When collecting cell lysates for a Western blot, how do I induce di-sulfide bonds?

I would like to conduct a simple dimerization experiment for some protein I'm collecting from a cultured cells. My thought is, that if I'm running a non-reducing, denaturing PAGE gel, then removing ...
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200 views

What are the lifetimes of cellular components on organelle or molecular level?

I was thinking that even though I know how generally the cell works, I don't really have a feeling of how volatile it is. I want to know what is the lifetime/turnover rate of different constituents of ...
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What causes adenosine build up in the brain when awake?

Adenosine is an important hormone in sleep regulation. It is postulated that when a person is awake, there is a build up of adenosine in the brain, which inhibits the neurons in the brain, and ...
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630 views

How to Design an siRNA Experiment?

I'm going to undertake an siRNA experiment soon, but I have only read about them. I want to address the role an enzyme plays in processing a protein. From what I understand, I will need to pick two ...
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252 views

Why is leucine amino acid used the most in proteins and tryptophan the least?

The amino acid leucine, is used in proteins more than others. Leucine with 9.1 percent (its average in more than 1.150 different proteins) is used most and tryptophan with 1.4 percent is used less ...
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166 views

Pharmacologically, can tricyclic antidepressants have a side-effect profile similar to neuroleptics?

Torticollis (wryneck, cervical dystonia) is a neurologic movement disorder causing involuntary muscle spasms in the neck. Often, neuroleptics can cause such a side effect. I'm wondering if this ...
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330 views

How do plants 'tell time' for circadian rhythms based on a ~24 cycle?

I've read that many plants have some sort of circadian rhythm where they perform a certain action on a cycle of about 24 hours, like the mimosa plant opening and closing its leaves. Obviously this is ...
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Experimental Analysis: What are possible reasons for this increase in N₂O production?

My professor wanted us to each conduct an experiment for class on something we thought would interesting. My experiment was very simple, but I'm not sure how to interpret my results. (Please note that ...
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Is using Hidden Markov Models to find homologues sensible in abstract, short sequences?

HMM alignment tools like hhpred excel at finding subtle homologues of folded proteins that simpler scoring techniques (such those used in BLAST algorithms) would miss. I am only looking at a small ...
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Are there any multicellular forms of life which exist without consuming other forms of life in some manner?

The title is the question. If additional specificity is needed I will add clarification here. Are there any multicellular forms of life which exist without requiring the consumption (destruction) of ...
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Can an organism process H₂O into H₂O₂?

In an answer to a recent question on Worldbuilding, I suggested that an organism convert $H_2O$ into $H_2O_2$. I suggested a few processes that yielded the desired final result ($2H_2O \rightarrow ...
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Histidine aromaticity

I understand that the imidazole ring in histidine is aromatic. I also realize that it retains it's aromaticity when protonated. I am wondering why it is not mentioned at all in basic text books such ...
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The real definition of carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are often defined as compounds with only C, H, and O and the H and usually the O atoms are in a 2:1 ratio. Exceptions like deoxyribose exist, but why is it recognized as a carbohydrate? ...
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Why is funnel web spider venom so lethal to humans and not so much for other mammals?

According to the information from this article, People and other primates are exquisitely sensitive to funnel web venom but, intriguingly, other mammals such as mice, rabbits, guineapigs, dogs ...
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What is the correct model for enzyme-substrate complementarity?

This Wikibook shows both proposed models of enzyme-substrate complementarity, the Lock and Key model and the Induced Fit model. I've always been taught that the Induced Fit model is the proper one. ...
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Differences Between Protein Motifs and Protein Domains?

I am in a 300-level molecular biology class and am unclear about this concept and how to delineate motifs versus domains of proteins. Any suggestions would be much obliged.
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Does ethanol destroy RNase?

I've gotten conflicting advice on this: some people believe one can remove RNase contamination simply by spraying the bench, pipettes, gloves, etc. with ethanol. Others think ethanol does not destroy ...
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420 views

What is the molecular basis of hangovers?

Well, most of us have experienced the wonderful feeling of the dreaded hangover. How does it work exactly? I imagine it has something to do with dehydration but what are the underlying mechanisms? ...
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Is it possible to derive the Michaelis-Menten equation under conditions where the product formation is reversible

Text books etc generally derive the Michaelis-Menten equation for the irreversible case i.e $$\ce{E + S <=> ES -> E +P}$$ I can't see how to do it for the reversible case i.e $$\ce{E + S ...