Department of Mathematics Colloquium

University of Idaho

Fall 2011
Thursday,  December 8, 3:30-4:20pm, room TLC 030

Refreshments in Brink 305 at 3:00 p.m.

Using computational biophysics to understand protein evolution and function


F. Marty Ytreberg

Department of Physics

University of Idaho


Understanding how proteins evolve and function is vital for developing better drugs or predicting the outbreak of disease.  Yet in spite of its importance, little is known about the underlying biophysical mechanisms behind protein evolution.  Computational biophysics has emerged as a useful tool in this area due to its unique ability to obtain a detailed, atomistic view of proteins and how they interact.  I will give two examples from our studies where computational biophysics has provided valuable insight: 

(i) Protein evolution in viruses.  Our results suggest that the amino acid changes that occur during high temperature
evolution of a virus increase capsid stability.  I will discuss the implications of these findings.

(ii) Determining realistic structural ensembles for intrinsically disordered proteins. Most methods for determining protein structure rely on the protein folding into a single conformation, and thus are not suitable for disordered proteins.  I will describe a new approach that combines experiment and simulation to generate structures for disordered proteins.