Monday, April 30, 2007

Herbert Tabor/Journal of Biological Chemistry Lectureship

 
One of the big events for ASBMB is the Herbert Tabor JBC lecture. It was held Saturday night in one of the large ballrooms. There were about one thousand people attending.

The first lecture was by Tony Hunter from The Salk Institute in California (USA). He spoke about mammalian kinases and phosphorylases with an emphasis on tyrosine kinases, which he discovered back in 1979. Tyrosine kinases are enzymes that attach phosphate groups to tyrosine residues in proteins. They are important because the phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of enzymes regulates their activity. Many of the genes that cause cancer (oncogenes) encode tyrosine kinases.

Hunter is trying to find out how many different proteins kinases there are in humans. The latest count suggests about 900 different enzymes. This is a remarkable number when you think about it. It means that 3-4% of all genes in our genome are kinases.

The second award winner was Tony Pawson from the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and the University of Toronto (Ontario, Canada). I've heard Tony speak many times so I wasn't quite as attentive during his lecture. Tony discovered a number of proteins domains, notably the SH2 domain, that interact with tyrosine kinases and their target proteins. The work of the two Tony's is complementary and that's why they received this joint award.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that there was a reception after the talks. Lots of delicious munchies and an open bar. I had a beer (or two). Most biochemists drink wine or fruit juice. It was not a wild bunch.

7 comments :

  1. Most biochemists drink wine or fruit juice. It was not a wild bunch.

    How odd. My experience of Evolutionary Biology meetings is that they always run out of beer, then everyone descends on the local bar. This behaviour led me to assume that it was not possible to conduct proper science without fermented grain beverages.

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  2. "This behaviour led me to assume that it was not possible to conduct proper science without fermented grain beverages."

    Close. But if you look at lab activity, the picture will be different. Of course alcohols are important in many labs, but consumption is frown upon.

    My reflection is that perhaps fermented beverages are required to discuss science? At least when you get into quantum physics there is no reliable way to distinguish sober thought.

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  3. Hunter is trying to find out how many different proteins kinases there are in humans. The latest count suggests about 900 different enzymes. This is a remarkable number when you think about it. It means that 3-4% of all genes in our genome are kinases.


    How many different proteins in us? I look forward to a post on alternative splicing.

    Pete

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  4. I'm working on a posting on alternative splicing. As far as I'm concerned it's one of the biggest myths in modern biochemistry.

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  5. Close. But if you look at lab activity, the picture will be different. Of course alcohols are important in many labs, but consumption is frown upon.

    Sure, you don't want to be drinking the lab booze - that's reserved for professorial purposes!

    Discussing science is a significant fraction of the total activity "doing science". Doing science is incomplete (and therefore not valid) without at least some discussion - often, this discussion is refered to as "publication", but it's still discussion. Ethanol consumption (at low concentrations) is key to proper discussion of science and therefore proper science.

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  6. I'm working on a posting on alternative splicing.

    Cool. I'm looking forward to that - this is an area of knowledge I am woefully deficient in.

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  7. "key to proper discussion of science and therefore proper science"

    I can't argue against such a perfect chain of implications. Unless we get together over a beer or two, that is. :-o

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