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Physics of Memory and Learning: From the Perspective of Interacting Biomolecules

Thursday, August 22, 2019

11:30 am - 1:00 pm

Abstract: Calcium (Ca2+) signaling is a dynamic system where Ca2+ concentration fluctuates in range of 0.1-10μM with time. These short transient Ca2+ around the entry sites activate Ca2+-binding proteins such as calmodulin (CaM). The prototypical pathway describes CaM as encoding a Ca2+ signal by selectively activating downstream CaM-dependent proteins through molecular binding.

However, CaM’s intrinsic Ca2+-binding properties alone appear insufficient to decode rapidly fluctuating Ca2+ signals. It has been proposed that the temporally varying mechanism for producing target selectivity requires CaM-target interactions that directly tune the Ca2+-binding properties of CaM through reciprocal interactions.

This presentation focuses on the binding mechanism of CaM and its target, which requires mutually and conformationally-induced changes in both participants and two unique and distinct CaM binding targets, neurogranin (Ng) and CaM-dependent kinase II (CaMKII), which are abundant in postsynaptic neuronal cells and are biochemically known to tune CaM’s affinity for Ca2+ in opposite directions.

Additional topics discussed include: CaM binding and target selection in the context of evolution and in a crowded environment and a presentation of an integrative approach of quantum mechanical calculations, all-atomistic molecular dynamics, and coarse-grained molecular simulations to investigate the molecular mechanisms of CaM’s reciprocal interaction between target binding and Ca2+binding.

Pizza will be available

Speaker: Margaret S. Cheung - Department of Physics, University of Houston

Bio: Dr. Cheung is the Moores Professor of Physics at the University of Houston. She graduated from the National Taiwan University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and received her Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, San Diego. She carried out theoretical biological physics and bioinformatics research as a Sloan Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland and started her lab at the University of Houston in 2006.

Dr. Cheung’s research focuses on protein folding inside a cell, calmodulin dependent calcium signaling, protein motors, actomyosin dynamics, and quantum efficiency in organic photovoltaics. She is particularly interested in developing multi-physics models that bridge the dynamics across wide temporal and spatial scales in subcellular biology and materials, and designing computational algorithms that integrate high-performance computing resources across heterogeneous systems.

She is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a Senior Scientist at the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics and an Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University.

The University of Houston Insperity Classroom and Business Building (CBB) Room 522 4742 Calhoun Rd.
FREE for UH students and faculty & SHPCP members | $15 Community members (Pay at the door)
Martin Huarte Espinosa