Each cell in our body inherits the same master copy of DNA, but different cell types use it differently. Transcription Factors help influence which genes are used in which cell. Understanding how these dynamic proteins physically interact with DNA allows us to better understand and model their binding to DNA and their regulation of gene expression.
Scientific Direction by the Wasserman Lab at the University of British Columbia:
Animation and editing by Blair Lyons of Stroma Studios:
The transporter protein ABCA1 (shown in red) is important in many lipid disorders and diabetes. Normally, it pumps cholesterol out of the cell as HDL, the good form of cholesterol in the bloodstream. The first part of this animation shows ABCA1 working in pancreatic islet cells, the cells that secrete insulin. While ABCA1 is working, insulin (the purple protein) is secreted normally. However, in the second part, when ABCA1 is not working, cholesterol builds up in the cell, influencing membrane fluidity and severely limiting the secretion of insulin.