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UW-Eau Claire Faculty and Student Researchers' Work Published in Important Journal

RELEASED: May 14, 2009

Dr. Sanchita Hati
Dr. Sanchita Hati

EAU CLAIRE — Two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty members and three student researchers had a paper they co-authored published in the April 10 issue of the prestigious Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Dr. Sanchita Hati, assistant professor of chemistry, and Dr. Sudeep Bhattacharyay, an instructor and researcher in the chemistry department, worked with the students, two of whom have since graduated. The students were Kristina Weimer, a senior from Madison; Brianne Shane, now in a doctoral program at The Ohio State University; and Michael Brunetto, now in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. Their paper was titled "Evolutionary Basis for the Couple-domain Motions in Thermus thermophilus Leucyl-tRNA Synthetase."

In explaining the research, Hati said that enzymes are large biomolecules that catalyze several important reactions in living cells. Many enzymes exhibit allosteric effect, a change in the property of one part of a molecule caused by a change in another part of the molecule. Long-range communication (communication between distant sites) is a hallmark of allosteric enzymes.

"In this paper, we investigated the role of enzyme dynamics and coevolving amino acid residues in long-range communication," Hati said. "We used bioinformatics and computational methods to demonstrate that correlated motion between different parts of leucyl-tRNA synthetase, an allosteric enzyme, is important to mediate long-range communication."

This research was conducted with the support of Research Corp. and UW-Eau Claire's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Hati also has received an Academic Research Enhancement Award for $184,205 from the National Institutes of Health to further their understanding in long-range communication in allosteric enzymes.

"This is a tremendous accomplishment for a relatively new faculty member, and a good indication that her research program will develop into a productive and sustainable endeavor," said Dr. James Phillips, chair of the chemistry department.

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NW/JB

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