First Post!

I realize that I am late to the “first post” party, but I guarantee you, I have been busy at work! Along with my current project, I have undertaken another, more grande assignment, so trying to balance the syntheses and biological applications of both projects have been tedious, yet fulfilling. For those who don’t know, my research is in the synthesis and application of unnatural amino acids (UAAs). My current project L-phenylalanine-4′-azobenzene (AzoBen) has been going somewhat smoothly. Since I have already created this UAA, I have been testing its abilities. The majority of my time spent testing AzoBen has been spent with my new friend Florence the Fluorimeter. A fluorimeter measures excitation and emission spectra, and since my UAA is photosensitive, I can understand how different wavelengths of light change the functionality of proteins with AzoBen. My protein of choice is Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) which derives from the jellyfish  Aequorea victoria, and naturally glows. I have been comparing the wild type, or normal GFP, with GFP with AzoBen inserted into the 151 residue, and also with AzoBen inserted into the 66 residue. Through the data given by Florence, I was able to note several interesting changes in emission spectra. When GFP was irradiated with light (365nm) the emission graphs would both shift up and shift down, and well as shift left at certain excitation wavelengths. This indeed means that AzoBen’s photoisomerable ability is affecting this protein, so this validates my project! While this is exciting, much more fluorimetry data needs to had before I can fully comprehend the specific effects.

Along with my AzoBen project, I have been given the task of recreating one of my former colleagues UAA, a tyrosine derivative with a propargyl, nitro, and methoxy group attached to the benzene ring. To create this molecule, there requires six separate steps to convert the precursor vanillin into this propargyl tyrosine (protyro), and I am well on my way. I will have many more details to come in my next regarding protyro in my next post.

Another interesting event that happened was my research professor’s mentioning of the scary word “publishing”. Coming into Fall Semester, my only inclination was to learn the procedures and fit into the general lab camaraderie. The idea of writing and publishing work was so foreign, that when Professor Young mention that he wanted a gel of AzoBen for publishing, I was taken aback. Needless to say, publishing is a goal for many of us, but the process is very unknown, and the pressure to yield publishable items (in my case I needed to run a protein gel) is immense. After my third gel I was able to get a beautiful gel, that clearly showed bands in the right places; however, this was not without great patience and tedious creation. How close I am to actually fostering a paper remains unknown, but the idea is now lurking, and it is a both great and terrifying event.

More updates to come later this week, thank you for reading!