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Molecular Screening

More About Creating a Molecular Stream

This animation demonstrates, in a simplified form, how a potentially useful small molecule can be fished out from the thousands of compounds created by researchers. A protein of interest, calmodulin in this example, can be used as a filter in a “stream” of small molecules. The majority of small molecules will not interact with calmodulin of ten because they lack the correct shape to bind with it. The rare molecule that does bind with calmodulin is the one researchers are looking for and can then be used for further investigations.

Molecular Stream Background

In order to understand life’s processes, it is useful to perturb the process and observe what happens.
In genetics, a gene’s functions are investigated by using mutations that disrupt their normal function. Chemical genetics is an analogous approach that investigates the functions of the genes by using small molecules to perturb the proteins—which are encoded by the genes—directly.

In genetics, some mutations result in loss of function, while others result in a gain of function. In chemical genetics, analogous protein perturbations exist that inactivate a protein (loss of function) or super-activate a protein (gain of function).


HHMI's 2002 Holiday Lectures on Science "Scanning Life's Matrix: Genes, Proteins and Small Molecules"

Molecular Stream Teaching Tips

The animations in this section have a wide variety of classroom applications. Use the tips below to get started but look for more specific teaching tips in the near future. Please tell us how you are using the animations in your classroom by sending e-mail to biointeractive@hhmi.org.

  1. Use the animations to make abstract scientific ideas visible and concrete.

  2. Explain important scientific principles through the animations. For example, the biological clocks animations can be used to demonstrate the fundamentals of transcription and translation.

  3. Make sure that students learn the material by repeating sections of the animations as often as you think necessary to reinforce underlying scientific principles. You can start, restart, and play back sections of the animations.

  4. Urge students to use the animations in accordance with their own learning styles. Students who are more visually oriented can watch the animations first and read the text later, while others might prefer to read the explanations first and then view the graphics.

  5. Incorporate the animations into Web-based learning modules that you create to supplement your classroom curricula.

  6. Encourage students to incorporate the animations into their own Web-based projects.

Molecular Stream Credits

Director: Dennis Liu, Ph.D.

Scientific Direction: Stuart L. Schreiber, Ph.D.

Scientific Content: Satoshi Amagai, Ph.D.

Animator: Eric Keller

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