Science by the Pint

Our next SbtP event features…

Dr. Chris Miller
Professor of Biochemistry, Brandeis University
Smart leaks: The proteins that electrify your brain cells

Thursday, June 29, 6:30-8:30pm at Aeronaut Brewery (14 Tyler Street, Somerville) (directions)

The interior of the living cell, where the action takes place, is separated from the cruel world on the outside by a thin membrane made of greasy, insulating material. This membrane houses many types of proteins; some signal events on the outside to trigger responses on the inside, while others serve as “pumps” that use cellular energy to accumulate nutrients or expel toxins. But membranes also house a vast variety of proteins called ‘ion channels,’ which are just leaks through which ions diffuse down the concentration gradients set up by the hardworking pumps. Why don’t such leaks just screw things up? What are they doing there?

Dr. Miller will discuss how ion channels give “electrical life” to cells by being selective to what ions can pass through and by changing shape (“conformational switching”), as well as recent advances in our understanding of these proteins down to the atomic level.

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