Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Peter Ren L&S Sciences

Investigating Allostery in the T4 Bacteriophage Clamp Loader

The AAA+ proteins (ATPases Associated with a variety of cellular Activities) are a highly diverse and ancient protein superfamily present in all organisms and are involved in such processes such as DNA replication, protein degradation, and metal insertion in protein synthesis. AAA+ proteins have some conserved features, including an oligomeric ring structure that exhibits inter-protomer cooperativitythat is to say, the hydrolysis of ATP in one subunit causes the preferential hydrolysis of ATP in the other subunits, making for a more efficient channeling of energy from ATP when switching states. While the existence of this cooperativity in AAA+ proteins is highly common, there is still little to no understanding about how the other subunits are able to detect the hydrolysis of ATP. In order to study allostery in AAA+ proteins, I will focus my research on one particular member of this superfamilythe T4 bacteriophages DNA clamp loader protein. Through computational and experimental methods, I hope to unwind the mystery of the structure-function relationship of this protein.

Message To Sponsor

I would love to thank the Banatao Fund for giving me the opportunity to devote myself full-time to research this summer. Without the funding, I would not have been able to do the work that I did, and this has been an amazing help for me to pursue a greater role in my research, and to aid in helping me achieve my next goal--getting into grad school! I will continue working on my summer project into the school year and into the future in preparation for a senior thesis and scientific discovery. Now more than ever I feel confident and excited for the future as a result of my devoted time I spent in the lab this summer!
Profile image of Peter Ren
Major: Chemical Biology and Computer Science
Mentor: John Kuriyan
Sponsor: Banatao Fund
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