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Superheroes of Science

Apr 24, 2020

Angeline Lyon, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry in the Departments of Chemistry and Biological Sciences at Purdue University, researches enzymes needed to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Specifically, her group studies Phospholipase C (PLC) enzymes which help trigger the release of calcium from inside the cell. Calcium oscillations drive body functions like muscle contractions, nerve impulses, and control how efficiently the heart beats. If calcium levels aren’t maintained, it can result in conditions such as irregular heartbeat, cardiac hypertrophy (abnormal enlargement, or thickening, of the heart muscle), or in severe cases it can lead to heart failure. Angeline’s lab uses multiple techniques to determine how proteins behave. X-ray crystallography is one method which helps her obtain “atomic snapshots” of proteins. This allows her to see where the amino acids are located within the proteins and consequently determine how those proteins work. Angeline also states that her lab is beginning to use electron microscopy which involves labeling proteins from a cell with a green fluorescent protein in order to track the movements of the labeled proteins within the cell. Additionally, her lab uses polymerase chain reactions (PCR) to help with protein mutations. Angeline offers advice to both undergraduate and high school students looking to get connected with opportunities to work in research labs.