College News

CAS News  Back to CAS News

CMMB faculty publishes new findings in PNAS

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology Professor Sameer Varma and his collaborators in Germany published their findings on the “hydrophilic” character of methyl groups on Aug. 5, 2013, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their case studies of potassium channels provide a paradigm shift in the understanding of the role of methyl groups in biology.

Methyl groups have a hydrophobic character, an inability to hydrogen bond with water, which is understood to be the driving force that gives biomolecules their shapes and functions.

Through a series of state-of-the-art simulations, Varma’s team point out that the energetic contribution of methyl hydrophilicity, the tendency to mix with, dissolve or be wetted by water, can be large enough to influence both the structures and the functions of biomolecules. It has been known for a long time that methyl groups posses this so-called hydrophilic character but through Varma’s studies it is now confirmed that this character can, in fact, influence the shape and function of biomolecules.


Filed under:Arts and Sciences Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology    
Author: Kelsey Howard