Kenji REU Final Report

All work here is done by Kenji Doering (with some help from me and his official mentor Nadiezda Fernandez Oropeza aka Nadia).

Below you will find the final report of the findings of the work that Kenji did regarding the effects of D2O on kinesin stability. (Note: This was surprisingly easier to embed then a youtube video.) I will give a brief summary of his findings and if you want to read more then just check out the Scribd embed below.

Using dynamic light scattering (DLS) we hoped to find that kinesin would be less prone to protein aggregation when suspended in D2O. DLS is a machine that detects laser light scattering to determine particle size in a solution. The machine will attempt to measure the particle sizes, but we only need to know that particles in solution are getting larger and don’t care about the actual number. So for this we just need to know the intensity of the scattered light. A higher intensity reveals larger particles, where a lower intensity means smaller particles.

Proteins tend to denature (unfold) over time but will also unfold if certain conditions are met. A lot of times (all the time?) denaturing can be induced by increasing the environmental temperature. For kinesin this temperature is relatively low (in the mid 40’s C). We tested the hypothesis with ovalbumin which is a rather abundant, cheap, and commercially available protein. Ovalbumin has been documented to denature and aggregate around 75C.

Consistent with the literature, we found that ovalbumin did aggregate around 75C. We also discovered that it would inconsistently do so. According to a literature search by Kenji, he found that ovalbumin may also enter a secondary structure that actually hinders the aggregation process. In many studies, we found that ovalbumin wouldn’t aggregate at all, which we were able to ascertain by eye (when aggregation is achieved the solution becomes a cloudy mixture see Fig 2.0 in the report). In unpublished (as of this moment) experiments we used a different protein called Catalase that seemed to aggregate every try.

While we couldn’t get ovalbumin to aggregate consistently, we did find that it never aggregated in D2O at the same temperatures. In most cases the intensity of the scattered light would rise slightly and then decrease back to the baseline readings. The catalase also didn’t aggregate in D2O (more on this later).

Kenji was able to perform one kinesin experiment with D2O hoping to detect no aggregation. Unfortunately one sample cost $300 and we only had enough commercial kinesin for one sample. While we did see an unsuccessful aggregation event similar to the event in D2O with ovalbumin, one experimental success is hardly grounds for declaration (and Kenji suggests more work needs to be done as well). This is where I pick up the pieces and move forward.

As I said before, you can read his entire written report below. Also I’m making all the Google Doc data public which you can find here.