Angeline’s project featured dynamic structural alignment between Transportin-1 (a nuclear transport receptor) and Tau (an aggregating protein for Alzheimer’s Disease) [A] and their aligned primary and secondary structures [B]. Graphic courtesy of Angeline Zhang (’21)

Finding common features of aragating proteins

Angeline Zhang (’21) spent her time analyzing proteins in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Protein buildup in neurons leads to brain degeneration and therefore causes such diseases. Angeline used computational tools to analyze similarities of proteins in different diseases, based on their amino acid sequences and similarities in their 3D structure. Angeline’s project was a “dry experiment” since it was conducted entirely on a computer. In her analysis, Angeline found one pair of proteins that have a similar 3D structure, Transportin-1 a nuclear transport receptor, and Tau, an aggregating protein for Alzheimer’s Disease. Transportin-1 is not an aragating protein in itself but can bind with other aragating proteins to become toxic. Knowing that information can help researchers create drugs to target proteins. Angeline worked over summer on the Alzheimer’s brain, so she continued research along that line at science fair. “I thought it was so cool that synthetic biology could be used to help people and improve their quality of life, which is why I chose this project,” said Angeline.

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