Energy Landscape Exploration of the Folding Processes of Biological Molecules

  • Author / Creator
    Engel, Megan C
  • For decades, scientists from every discipline have struggled to understand the mechanism of biological self-assembly, which allows proteins and nucleic acids to fold reliably into functional three-dimensional structures. Such an understanding may hold the key to eliminating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and to effective protein engineering. The current best framework for describing biological folding processes is that of statistical mechanical energy landscape theory, and one of the most promising experimental techniques for exploring molecular energy landscapes is single molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS), in which molecules are mechanically denatured. Theoretical advances have enabled the extraction of complete energy landscape profiles from SMFS data. Here, SMFS experiments performed using laser optical tweezers are analyzed to yield the first ever full landscape profile for an RNA pseudoknot. Further, a promising novel landscape reconstruction technique is validated for the first time using experimental data from a DNA hairpin.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Physics
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Beach, Kevin (Physics)
    • Woodside, Michael (Physics)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Morsink, Sharon (Physics)
    • Beach, Kevin (Physics)
    • Klobukowski, Mariusz (Chemistry)
    • Woodside, Michael (Physics)