Science is a process of applying and building on the findings of others, so one of the major tasks of any scientist is to communicate their work to their colleagues. Scientific research in medicine, nutrition, agriculture and many other related fields relies on the sharing of new discoveries and insights. Scientific research is reported in written form in specialist journal articles, and at scientific meetings where scientists gather to hear oral presentations on the latest developments. New ideas and new explanations grow out of the work of many individual scientists who communicate and discuss their work together in these ways.
This second of two major assessment tasks will provide you with an opportunity to develop your research and inquiry skills and to refine your scientific writing skills. The task Proteins are the most prevalent macromolecules in biological systems. They are extraordinarily diverse in terms of size, structure and biological function, and they participate in the majority of cellular processes including metabolism, energy production, transport, storage, cell signalling, defence and the maintenance of cell structure. The function of a protein invariably requires some form of interaction with another molecule, and the molecule that interacts with and is bound by the protein is referred to by biochemists as a ‘ligand’. Chemists usually consider a ligand to be a small ion or molecule attached to a metal atom by coordinate bonding. Biochemists have a much broader definition of the term that can include any other molecule that forms a functional complex with a protein to serve a useful biological role, even if that ligand is large like another macromolecule (eg. a sugar/carbohydrate, a lipid, another protein, or even a molecule of DNA or RNA). For this task you will investigate the interaction between a particular protein and its ligand to learn how the complex formed carries out a useful biological function. You are expected to delve into the interaction at the molecular level, ideally to describe exactly which amino acid residue(s) of the protein are directly involved in forming the protein-ligand complex, i.e. to explain how the interaction occurs. You are free to investigate a protein-ligand interaction of your own choosing and that you find interesting. To help you, many potential topics appear on the LMS and in the notes provided. You will research the scientific literature to gather information about the protein, its ligand and the interaction between them, and then use this information to write a 1200-word report on the major features of the protein-ligand complex and its biological function.
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The objectives of this task are: To investigate a protein-ligand interaction at the molecular level in order to improve your understanding of the relationship between protein structure and biological function; To further develop literature research skills: to select appropriate sources of reliable and relevant information from primary research articles and specialist texts in the scientific literature; To further develop scientific writing skills: to use vocabulary appropriate for a general scientific audience; to write in full sentences with correct grammar and spelling; to develop a concise story that conveys the major features of the protein-ligand interaction in a logical sequence; To refine correct referencing and other acknowledgement skills: including in-text citations and a reference list using a standardized format;