Professor Fyodor Urnov
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Welcome to MCB 102. I would first like to make an
announcement that you should make sure you're on
bSpace. Many of the materials for the class will be
posted there including articles and the daily
slideshows. Slides will not be posted on the web
prior to lecture, though. Instead, I wish for you to
bring a pen and paper to class, while the slides will
be posted on bSpace later in the afternoon.
Also, be aware that Berkeley time will be
suspended for the summer. Since we have so little
time and so much material to cover, classes will
begin at 8:30 instead of at 8:40.
In addition, discussion sections will start next week.
All sections are mandatory, and there will be
section participation points as part of your final
At first, I wanted to start off the class by talking
about the real life Rainman. If any of you don't
know about the movie, the character Rainman can
remember any moment that happened in his life
with perfect clarity. He was based on a real-life
person, Laurence Kim Peek, who also had a
photographic memory. But I decided against this
because we don't really understand the biochemical
basis of his abilities.
Sugars as a Source of Energy
Instead, I wanted to talk about four of the fastest
people in the world because the biochemical basis
of their feats is understood a bit better. Some of
them are short distance sprinters while others do
longer distances. Nevertheless, all of their abilities
come down to being able to efficiently metabolize
the polysaccharide starch, specifically amylose.
you ate breakfast this morning, you probably had
some amylose, as it can be found in bagels and
toast. Other significant polysaccharides are lactose,
which can be found in coffee, and sucrose, which
can be found in nearly all of our food.
Polysaccharides, like amylose and lactose, however,
are completely useless to humans in the form that
they are found in nature. Instead, we must break
down the sugars into their digestible
monosaccharide form. For example, sucrose is
metabolized into D-glucose (an aldohexose) and a
D-fructose (a ketohexose). I would like to
emphasize though that they are never found in a
completely reduced linear form in the human body
and are instead in their ring shape confirmation.
On that note, I'd like to remind everyone that