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Research by Kate Mittendorf '10 Published in Biochemistry

Kate Mittendorf '10

December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — Kathleen F. Mittendorf, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of biochemistry and Center for Structural Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and 2010 graduate of DePauw University, is co-author of research published in the journal Biochemistry. "Tolerance to Changes in Membrane Lipid Composition as a Selected Trait of Membrane Proteins" -- which appears in volume 50, issue 46 of the publication -- is co-authored by Charles R. Sanders, professor of biochemistry at Vanderbilt. Mittendorf also created the image seen on the cover of the issue (pictured below).

Their research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants and by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship received by Mittendorf.

Biochemistry Nov011An abstract of the article states, "Membrane lipid composition can vary dramatically across the three domains of life and even within single organisms. Here we review evidence that the lipid-exposed surfaces of membrane proteins have generally evolved to maintain correct structure and function in the face of major changes in lipid composition. Such tolerance has allowed evolution to extensively remodel membrane lipid compositions during the emergence of new species without having to extensively remodel the associated membrane proteins. The tolerance of membrane proteins also permits single-cell organisms to vary their membrane lipid composition in response to their changing environments and allows dynamic and organelle-specific variations in the lipid compositions of eukaryotic cells. Membrane protein structural biology has greatly benefited from this seemingly intrinsic property of membrane proteins: the majority of structures determined to date have been characterized under model membrane conditions that little resemble those of native membranes. Nevertheless, with a few notable exceptions, most experimentally determined membrane protein structures appear, to a good approximation, to faithfully report on native structure."

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As a DePauw sophomore, Kate Mittendorf (who was a biochemistry major and Science Research Fellow) received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.  You'll find details in this previous story.

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