I have a few ideas in mind…but I’m not certain which protein I should choose.
There are two proteins that are actually in David Goodsell’s “Molecule of the Month”!
One is prolactin (April 2004), a growth hormone present in children and adults. In female adults, the hormone is secreted to stimulate the mammary glands for milk production. Interestingly, this hormone is also secreted in males. Now, why would it be required for men? I’m not sure there are any studies that actually point out the function of this hormone in males, but it has been suggested to play a role in sexual latency.
The other is luciferase (June 2006)! I think many of you know of the anglerfish, a fish that has a little light in front of their head to lure prey, like Marlin and Dory from “Finding Nemo”. Interestingly, the light is actually produced from marine bacteria, such as Vibrio harveyi. Now, to produce luciferase, the bacteria use a strategy called quorum sensing. This is a way for the bacteria to communicate, so once they reach a certain cell density, they’ll all work together to glow by producing this protein.
Lastly, the protein that I may want to explore is Cannabinoid Receptor-1, a receptor present in the central nervous system to inhibit the release of an inhibitory neurotransmitter. I first read about this receptor in my physiology class, and I’ll use the example my professor provided to explain it. Let’s say you’re craving tacos. Your brain will release an excitatory neurotransmitter to another neuron. However, your body will also release an inhibitory neurotransmitter to the same neuron, thus inhibiting the excitatory signal (your body says, no tacos!). When you’re exposed to a molecule such as THC, THC will bind to the Cannabinoid Receptor-1 and prevent the release of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, thus allowing the excitatory signal to continue (eat those tacos!).