BIOL 419
Secrets of Enzymes: Fidelity, Promiscuity, and Disease Spring 2020
Division III

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Living organisms have spent the past 4 billion years evolving proteins and enzymes that perform basic cellular functions to support life. Over time, duplications and mutations of these enzymes have led to novel reactions, pathways, and chemistries. To gain an appreciation for these molecular catalysts, we will start by considering how enzymes are synthesized, how errors are introduced and corrected, and how proteins are degraded. We will then analyze the effects of beneficial errors on the evolution of new function and the effects of undesirable errors in human disease. The final section of this course will focus on how enzymes such as CRISPR/Cas9 act as ‘molecular scissors’ to cut DNA and how these enzymes can be used to correct errors. We will explore the implications of this field in active areas of biomedical research, including antibiotic resistance and personalized medicine. Discussions and writing assignments will focus on reading and critiquing the scientific literature.
The Class: Type: discussion, three hours per week
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3349
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: four 4- to 5-page papers and participation in discussions
Prerequisites: BIOL 202 required; recommended BIOL 222 or BIOL 321
Enrollment Preferences: senior Biology majors who have not taken a 400-level course, then juniors
Unit Notes: does not satisfy the distribution requirement for the Biology major
Distributions: Division III
Attributes: BIMO Interdepartmental Electives

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