The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

Scientists can be very full of themselves (or rather of their own research topic) creatures. I consider myself a scientist (among other things). So I suppose I need to live up to the expectations?! Hence, my first attempt to make this blog live a life, will be by introducing my own research. But I am tired of writing structured scientific texts and reports… So this will not be one of them (or at least it was not meant to be!).

I work with molecular chaperones. Now, if you ask your dictionary, it will give you the social meaning of the term – a person accompanying/helping young/sick people. But of all the things I am, I am not a social worker – I am a scientist. And in my world, the chaperone is an incredibly sophisticated and extremely beautiful molecular machine. Chaperones help the newly synthesized proteins fold properly into their functional and stable state; they also work as quality controls, sensing protein ageing and taking part in protein recycling. Some chaperones detect stressful conditions and ring a distress call for something going wrong.

Much like the man-made machines, chaperones can be used for peace and for warfare, depending on the situation and the point of view of course. Pathogens use chaperones to protect their own cells from the defense mechanisms of their hosts. Plants use them to withstand harsh environmental conditions. Animals rise the chaperone content as a defense shield during inflammation and even cancer and Alzheimer’s.

We might full ourselves that we know a lot about how these machines work and when they operate in full power, but we are also realists about how much we don’t know yet. Most probably the chaperones will turn out to be even bigger players than is estimated now, so scientists keep looking into them. Me included… Stay tuned!

(images: http://www.rcsb.org/)

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