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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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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240 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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4answers
165 views

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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78 views

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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144 views

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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211 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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381 views

What biological processes cause leaves to change colours in Autumn?

I am curious to learn what are the biological mechanisms that cause leaves of deciduous plants to change colour? What happens to the chlorophyll? What environmental phenomena (temperature/air ...
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134 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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278 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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99 views

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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2k views

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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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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177 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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4k views

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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339 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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89 views

The effect on the efficacy and potency of a non-competetive antagonist binding to the active site of the receptor (dose-response curve)

According to the book "Principles of Pharmacology: The Pathophysiologic Basis of Drug Therapy" by Golan et al, non-competetive antagonists can bind to both the allosteric site and the active site. I ...
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217 views

How many RNA-binding proteins can simultaneously bind on a single mRNA?

Typically, how many RNA-binding proteins can simultaneously bind to a single mRNA? Or said differently, how many "binding sites" does an mRNA have? What order of magnitude? I am interested in RNA ...
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2k views

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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3answers
15k views

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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4k views

HDL- and LDL-cholesterol

Why exactly are HDL-cholesterols good for us and LDL-cholesterols not. I know LDL-cholesterols cause Atherosclerosis and that HDL-cholesterols removes the excess of LDL-cholesterols, but from a ...
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2answers
785 views

For how long and how cold should I perform ethanol/isopropanol precipitations of RNA or DNA?

Precipitating nucleic acids using either isopropanol or ethanol is a very common operation, and I've read some very different protocols on the duration and temperature the precipitation should be ...
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192 views

What exactly makes bananas go brown?

I know that often oxidation processes are mentioned when referring to the color change from yellow to brown in bananas (specifically: those that you get everywhere in supermarkets, with no seeds). ...
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210 views

Is there an enzyme for the transformation of the hydroxyl group?

I would like to know, is there any enzyme which does the transformation of hydroxyl group to any other functional group using the enzyme. The substrate is aromatic hydroxyl group. Product should not ...
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82 views

Where do the electrons and protons formed from biological reactions go?

In a reaction like disulphide bond formation protons and electrons are released. These particles are presumably damaging in high levels. What systems are in place to prevent a build up of electrons ...
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499 views

Are the cytosol and extracellular fluids electrically neutral?

I've found several sources that state that overall, the cytosol of a cell is electrically neutral. The extracellular fluid is also purportedly electrically neutral. How can that be when we have ...
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372 views

What's the difference between Ki and IC50?

I have just read this post at researchgate: "How to calculate experimental binding free energy from the IC50 value" I am not be very sure about what the difference is between Ki and IC50. Could ...
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198 views

What does it mean for a distribution to be “consistent with a two rate-limiting stochastic steps”?

I'm reading a study (full text here) that examine the dynamic of nuclear translocation of a transcription factor in budding yeast, in response of calcium stress. They found that it occurs in bursts, ...
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142 views

Why does getting certain chemicals in cuts hurt?

More specifically, shampoo. What are the mechanics of detecting a noxious chemical stimulus in terms of which receptors recognise what, how do they do it, and how is this information relayed to the ...
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1answer
344 views

Determining if a specific proline is cis or trans in the protein?

While peptide bonds usually adopt the trans conformation, peptide bonds to proline can exist in either cis or trans conformation. The isomerization between cis and trans is slow, and has been shown to ...
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1answer
4k views

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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30 views

What Goes on in Photosystems at the Molecular/Atomic Level?

In light-harvesting complexes, how is the energy of a photon transferred from one pigment molecule to another? And in reaction-center complexes, how does the primary electron acceptor capture an ...
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2answers
1k views

Basic Amino Acid Residue Binding Mechanism to DNA

I understand that many protein DNA binding domains bind to DNA via basic residues such as Arginine and Lysine. But what is the mechanism used to bind to DNA and where on the DNA would these residues ...
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1answer
133 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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3k views

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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2k views

Very high 260/230 absorbance ratio of an RNA sample

After my most recent RNA extraction, the RNA samples had very high 260/230 absorbance ratios, (ranging from 5 to 25). I've never gotten numbers like this and I know the ratio is supposed to be ~2 in ...
6
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1answer
494 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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1answer
71 views

Why is the brain dependent on glucose?

The strict dependence of the (human) brain on glucose has always been puzzling to me. While ketones can substitute for a portion of the brain's energy needs, it cannot substitute completely: blood ...
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100 views

Which will produce more oxygen? Less number of (larger) trees or more number of (smaller) plants?

In a given area A, we have two choices - (i) we can plant maximum number of trees (which are larger in size) possible in A, say m OR (ii) we can plant maximum number of plants (which are smaller in ...
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1answer
64 views

How does the body “know” how to metabolize foreign substances

As a freshman biochemistry major, I find myself befuddled by our body's ability to perform complex chemical reactions to break down foreign substances. I can see how we would evolve explicit pathways ...
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2answers
884 views

Why is absorbance at 280 nm for protein solution going up when I measure repeatedly?

I have been measuring my protein solutions' concentrations by diluting them in water 20 fold with a final volume of 100 uL and then measuring the absorbances of these solutions in 96 well plates with ...
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1answer
497 views

$S_{0.5}$ vs $K_m$ values in enzyme kinetics

What is the difference between $S_{0.5}$ values and $K_m$ values in enzyme kinetics?
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4answers
66 views

Enzymatic error rate

I am aware that each enzyme generate a certain amount of misproducts. This is well documented, for example, for the DNA polymerase. I am interested in enzyme involved in biochemical processes, so for ...
6
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1answer
132 views

Can jellyfish improve Black Sea environment?

According to this study, cited by many popular science magazines, jellyfish and other, smaller animals can contribute to the vertical ocean stir as much as currents do. Black Sea chemistry and ...
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25 views

THYROGLOBULIN (19S) comes to a heavier position than ferritin (51S). Why?

Sedimentation values of thyroglobulin and ferritin containing iron are 19 and 51S, respectively. But, by density gradient centrifuge, it seems thyroglobulin(19S) migrates faster than ferritin(51S). ...
6
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1answer
76 views

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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2answers
734 views

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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4answers
304 views

Appropriate Buffer for electerophoresis of DNA & Protein TBE or TAE?

Which buffer is best for DNA Electrophoresis and which is best for Protein to be have a sharp bond? Considering a higher electrical conductivity compared to TAE & TBE and the generation of less ...
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3answers
888 views

How does protein denaturation work?

I was wondering how protein denaturation works. Are there covalent bonds, such as disulfide bridges involved, or is it based purely on non-covalent bonds such as hydrogen bonds? Why is denaturation ...
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2answers
443 views

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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2answers
280 views

Effect of steroid hormone on specific cells?

As steroid hormones can pass through the plasma membrane by simple diffusion because they are lipid derived hormones, it means that they are capable of passing through every cell of our body, BUT why ...