Now that we’ve gone through the introductions, here’s a little bit about the project I’m working on (I promise it will be understandable!). I am examining the role of a lupus-associated gene, called PTPN22, in response to viral infection. Many people with lupus, and other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, have a mutation in this gene and produce a mutated protein. This protein’s mutation is in the form of a substituted amino acid at position 620.
What does that mean? Genes code for proteins–the sequence of base pairs in the DNA, like a barcode, are scanned by molecules in the cell to then produce a protein. Imagine a string of beads, and each bead can be one of around 20 different colors. The beads represent the amino acids–building blocks of proteins–while the different colors represent different kinds of amino acids. You may have heard of some of them. The amino acid phenylalanine is used to make the artificial sweetener aspartame, ...Continue Reading →