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Pushing the Thermodynamic Envelope into the Proteomic Edge

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Tracey McDole, a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Forest Rohwer, San Diego State University, has authored a post on Small Things Considered that looks at recent research published in PNAS that questions the physical limits to cell behavior.

"The word marginal means to be at the outer or lower limits; minimal for requirements; almost insufficient. Certainly being marginal sounds bad, but is it always? In a recent issue of PNAS, Dill and colleagues show that the proteome—a cell’s collection of thousands of different types of proteins—is only marginally stable to denaturation under normal physiological conditions. Little did you know, we’re all just a few kcal mol-1 away from being a pile of unfolded proteins.

Just exactly how close are we to becoming a marinade of melted matter at 37.5 °C? The answer lies in the distribution of lengths of our proteins."

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