Wrong place

by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

When you reach a certain age, one question arises on a painfully regular basis. It begins with a "Where are my...?" or a "Where is my..." Reading glasses are a constant. Frequently, they are not where they ought to be. Having relocated them, you may well remark that they are not where you put them. But they are. The thing is, in a moment of distraction, you left them where you would not normally: on the garden wall, in your coat pocket, on the clothes washing machine, perhaps even in the fridge. All in all, they were inadvertently mislocated. On a far smaller scale, the same kind of thing can happen to proteins. There are times when proteins end up where they should not be - which is a source of stress both for their unusual environment and the one they have not reached. Over time, cells have developed various quality control systems to correct all sorts of mistakes - one of them being mislocation. As an illustration, lodged in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, the enzyme P5A-ATPase is able to spot mislocated transmembrane mitochondrial proteins, grab hold of them and fling them back into the cellular cytosol.

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Protein Spotlight (ISSN 1424-4721) is a monthly review written by the Swiss-Prot team of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Spotlight articles describe a specific protein or family of proteins on an informal tone. Follow us: Subscribe · Twitter · Facebook

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A little bit of praise!

“I recently stumbled upon your columns. Let me congratulate you on achieving the near impossible, for your articles have enabled me to successfully marry IT with the Life Sciences and better explain the concepts of bioinformatics to those who are not in the know of the field.

Your articles are very well written, lucid, and contain just enough information to excite the reader to want to learn more about the topic being discussed. They fall in a very rare category where they are accessible to everyone, from the undergraduate students to research students who want to have a basic idea of the topics being discussed. Some of your articles, like "Our hollow architecture" and "Throb" are outstanding pieces.

I would highly recommend your articles as a necessary reading in undergrad classes to get students inspired about the various avenues of research.”

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