Monday, June 8, 2009

ATP synthase and its effects on grad students

I'll never forget the first time I saw an animation of the advance of the prokaryotic replication fork (I know the post is on ATP synthase. I'll get to that in a second). It was around 2005 while I was taking a MolBio course. Bruce Alberts (with whom I would later sit down for coffee on a cold morning in Chicago two years later, to discuss life as a biologist) came to visit our University in Chile and brought with him this video from HHMI (you can see other HHMI's animations here) which I posted a few months ago while discussing a recent paper on DNA replication [Polymerase Dynamics at the Eukaryotic DNA Replication Fork].

These sort of visual aids are of great help, in my opinion, in understanding complex phenomena as DNA replication, or other molecular processes.

Recently, Iddo at Byte Size Biology, pointed us to some very interesting videos, from John E. Walker’s lab, on the mechanism of ATP synthase, an enzyme capable of synthesizing ATP from ADP and Pi through a unique rotary mechanism, in which subunits move relative to one another, powered by an electrochemical gradient of H+ or Na+ across the membrane [Da Vinci, F0-F1 ATPase: a copyright-driven Update].

This is just one of them:

This animation (along with the several ones that have been created along the years) is a perfect example of the importance of animations in the teaching of complex phenomena in biology as it helps (along with reading the textbook and understanding the figures) to comprehend how this molecular assembly can lead to the generation of ATP, using an electrochemical gradient that powers mechanical rotation.

OK, enough with the background, and on to the REAL reason of this post: what would you get if you add geeky grad students, a camera and a seminar on the enzymatic mechanisms of ATP synthase (and maybe some beer)?

This (again, thanks Iddo!):

ScienceBlips: vote it up!