Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Queuing theory helps physicist understand protein recycling

Date:
April 21, 2014
Source:
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Summary:
A picture of waiting in line helps one physicist understand how cells operate, especially as it relates to what the consequences could be of protein traffic jams inside cells. "If you consider the analogy of a subway, it's a fairly apt one," the researcher said. "A subway can deal with a certain number of customers with its limited number of outlets. If the flow is correct, the system works fine. If people arrive in bunches, it can jam the system. The same is true in cells."

We've all waited in line and most of us have gotten stuck in a check-out line longer than we would like.

Related Articles


For Will Mather, assistant professor of physics and an instructor with the College of Science's Integrated Science Curriculum, studying lines, or queues, has been crucial in trying to understand how cells deal with bottlenecks that limit the recycling of proteins.

The work, submitted during Mather's first semester as an assistant professor, has received attention from the National Science Foundation in the form of a $960,000 grant.

Leveraging the history of queuing theory, and working at the intersection of statistics, physics, engineering, biology, and computer science, Mather tries to extend an understanding of waiting in line to how cells operate, especially as it relates to what the consequences could be of protein traffic jams inside cells.

"If you consider the analogy of a subway, it's a fairly apt one," Mather said. "A subway can deal with a certain number of customers with its limited number of outlets. If the flow is correct, the system works fine. If people arrive in bunches, it can jam the system. The same is true in cells."

In the subway analogy, enzymes act as gatekeepers while proteins are the customers. The proteins are trying to be recycled, so they can be made into other proteins, but the enzymes can only handle so much traffic and proteins are either not recycled or they need to find alternative pathways.

"By better understanding these pathways we find associations with development, inflammation, cancer -- they are all potential areas of impact," Mather said. "In principle, every cell has limited resources available to recycle proteins. The paths associated with what we consider positive development for those proteins might cross talk with paths associated with information transmission, or less desirable outcomes such as cancer.

"What we're doing now is using a simple, common bacterium, E. coli, and using fluorescent proteins to see how circuits behave in individual cells in an effort to understand the effect of these pathways," Mather said.

By understanding these bottlenecks, Mather seeks to discover the mechanism behind how cells naturally alleviate bottlenecks by directing their proteins to different 'servers' to be recycled. He said his research will then produce intuitive and powerful quantitative models for these bottlenecks, as well as create new molecular tools for synthetic biology and biotechnology in general, which will allow for the construction of large, scalable bio-circuits in bacteria.

This, he says he believes, will push the frontiers of both traditional and synthetic biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Queuing theory helps physicist understand protein recycling." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140421211307.htm>.
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). (2014, April 21). Queuing theory helps physicist understand protein recycling. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140421211307.htm
Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). "Queuing theory helps physicist understand protein recycling." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140421211307.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins