Sara Kibrom, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
“Ternary Complexes of Crotamine”
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Richard Karpel
Expected Graduation Date: May 2010
A small cell-penetrating peptide, crotamine, found in snake venom carries plasmid DNA into cells. Crotamine-DNA complex interaction with actively proliferating (AP) cells might be due to crotamine’s unique interaction with cell surface glycosamioglycans (GAG) such as heparin sulphate proteoglycans (HSPG). The determination of the binding properties of crotamine with DNA, in Dr. Karpel’s laboratory, led to an interest in crotamine’s unique interaction with cell surface HSPG. We want to continue studying crotamine’s binding properties by further exploring its interaction with GAG and DNA. The affinity of crotamine for DNA and HSPG will be established by using a fluorimeter and looking for protein tryptophan quenching, which occurs when crotamine binds to either DNA or HSPG. The main goal of this research is to characterize ternary complexes of crotamine with GAG and DNA. Analyzing this will help us determine how crotamine delivers DNA into AP cells, such as cancerous cells.