Friday, March 29, 2013

Culture shock: Proteomics study on CAND1 in Cell makes the news in Seoul!

There is a great proteomics paper in this month's edition of Cell.  I spent some time with one of the authors, Dr. J. Eugene Lee,  and got an amazing walkthrough on this study where they have identified a protein with a completely novel type of activity.  The paper in question, from Nathan Pierce et al., comes out of Cal Tech and describes the ability of the CAND1 protein in accelerating the dissociation of certain protein families (by over 1 million fold!).  The study is a little mind-boggling in its scope and extremely thorough.  One of the most interesting aspects of the study for me is the fact that they used a "pulse SILAC" technique.  After their protein of interest was turned on by their expression system, they changed the media for SILAC media.  This halted the production of their expression vector and left all of their protein of interest unlabeled.  Using SILAC in this manner had never occurred to me, but it makes great sense, and I can think of lots of uses for this technique.

This is a great and extremely innovative study where they demonstrate a protein function that has never before been observed.  I fully expect this system to be a staple of future biochemistry texts.

As much as I respect this study, what I almost respect more is that Dr. Lee was interviewed for television here regarding the publication of the study.  Hopefully this doesn't seem odd to some of my readers, but in the U.S. science stories almost never make the news.  In general, our media is very anti-intellectual.  When a study does make the news it is almost always about bigfoot or some conman who hunts ghosts or is searching for places in the bible that are obviously allegorical and not real places.  Large high profile NASA missions make our news but they are almost always quick blerbs, unless the mission is a failure and the media can use it to criticize science in specific and NASA in particular.  In the U.S., you don't get on TV for doing something smart, but you will be a daily feature by proudly flaunting your ignorance.  Sorry if that was a tirade.  I'm just so very impressed that there are cultures that respect scientific achievement and I'm so glad that I get to spend time in one of them.

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