Dance Your Dissertation, 2008

Here is one of the winners of the AAAS/Science Dance Contest. It’s choreography by Professor Vince Licata of Johns Hopkins University illustrating his 1990 dissertation, Resolving Pathways of Functional Coupling in Human Hemoglobin Using Quantitative Low Temperature Isoelectric Focusing of Asymmetric Mutant Hybrids.

Here is Prof. Licata’s description of the thesis/dance:

Hemoglobin is a 4-subunit protein (a tetramer) that binds and transports oxygen. Individual alpha-subunits and beta-subunits come together to form almost inseparable dimers (boy-girl pairs with matching eye-goggle and gloves in the dance). How dimer-1 interacts with dimer-2 in the whole protein, however, depends on the exact combination of bound oxygens (white balls). If one dimer gets 2 oxygens to itself, cooperativity is reduced and it does not interact well with the other dimer. If both dimers get at least 1 oxygen, they cooperate with each other, and usually bind 2 more oxygen molecules (for a total of 4). In normal hemoglobin, the two dimers are identical. Hemoglobin tetramers with two differing types of dimers are called “asymmetric mutant hybrids” (hence the different colored goggles and gloves on each “dance-mer”). “Low temperature isoelectric focusing” is a method that freezes (literally) and takes a snapshot of the dimer-dimer interactions at different times.

The music is Laurie Anderson‘s Born, Never Asked.

Thanks to Brook for the link.

~ by lolarusa on December 3, 2008.

One Response to “Dance Your Dissertation, 2008”

  1. Wow, science that I can understand! It reminds me a bit of what I posted about Mobius strips today, more sociological commentary than math.

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