09-17 - BIO 5099: Molecular Biology for Computer Scientists...

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BIO 5099: Molecular Biology for Computer Scientists (et al) Lecture 8: Molecular Biology! (of prokaryotes) http://compbio.uchsc.edu/hunter/bio5099 Larry.Hunter@uchsc.edu Molecular Biology What is molecular biology? Understanding life at a molecular level Understanding life: What does life do? What are the components of life? (biomolecules) How do the components achieve the functions (biochemistry) Structure and function Life and its components are described in two distinct ways: structure and function Structure , whether of the cell itself or of a biomolecular component, describes physical composition and relationships. Function describes the logical role that a component plays in the processes of life. Some ambiguity: the physical activity which instantiates a logical role is sometimes called a function . Much research is done to relate a known function to an unknown structure or v.v.
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The function Turn food. .. Environmentally available matter and energy Into babies. .. survival replication In the presence of competitors. .. more “successfully” than the alternatives The structure The components are (minimally): Boundaries, defined by membranes Inheritable characteristics, the genome. The genome is physically embodied in the chromosome(s). The other biomaterials necessary for life: the cytoplasm . Life is its components; state doesn't matter Some life forms (even metazoans, e.g. brine shrimp) can be taken very close to 0°K and still be viable when thawed. All dynamics are lost by freezing, so everything about being alive can (for at least some organisms) be captured by the molecular composition of the organism. Simple Life We will start with the simplest cells, and progressively add the structures and functions associated with more complexity Bacteria are simple in some ways, but not in others Bacteria have less internal structure that Eukaryotic cells, and reproduce asexually However, modern bacteria have evolved a wide variety of specialized mechanisms, e.g. for drug resistance First look at structure and function of key biological molecules
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An organism must have the molecular machinery necessary to translate the genome into an offspring Cytoplasm : the structure (components) Metabolism : the function (processes) of creating the necessary components Catabolic : creation of energy and basic chemical units necessary to translate a genome into the necessary components (usually by breaking down inputs) Anabolic : creation of necessary components (biomolecules) from energy and other inputs What are the inputs? Most organisms are heterotrophs.
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09-17 - BIO 5099: Molecular Biology for Computer Scientists...

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