College of Science Distinguished Speaker: Generating Giant Lipids for Survival

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College of Science Distinguished Speaker
Generating Giant Lipids for Survival

Dr. Squire J. Booker
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Deputy Editor, ACS Bio & Med Chem Au
Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Eberly Family Distinguished Chair in Science
Pennsylvania State University

Can organisms survive in boiling hot springs? Yes! Archaea are examples of organisms that can survive in extreme environments, such as high temperatures, high salinity, and extreme pH values. To survive such environments, some archaea have evolved their lipid molecules with extra bonds, connecting the ends of their long carbon tails. These long macrocyclic lipid tails, which can span both leaflets of their outer membrane, provide enhanced stability to the archaea’s cellular structure under extreme conditions. How these specialized lipids are formed has puzzled scientists for decades. However, the Booker Lab (Penn State) used X-ray crystallography, high-resolution mass spectrometry, chemical synthesis, and biochemical analyses to identify the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of giant macrocyclic membrane lipids, providing scientists with one of the key strategies that archaea use to survive in extreme conditions.

Speaker Bio:
Squire J. Booker is an Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The Pennsylvania State University and holds the Eberly Family Distinguished Chair in Science. He is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Booker received a BA degree with a concentration in Chemistry from Austin College (Sherman, Texas) in 1987. He earned his Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Professor JoAnne Stubbe (1994) and was supported by NSF–NATO and NIH Fellowships for postdoctoral studies in the laboratories of Dr. Daniel Mansuy (Université René Descartes, Paris, France) and Professor Perry Frey (Institute for Enzyme Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison), respectively. In 1999 he moved to The Pennsylvania State University as an independent investigator. Booker’s research concerns novel mechanisms and pathways for the biosynthesis of various natural products and cellular metabolites, focusing on enzymes that use S-adenosylmethionine and iron-sulfur clusters to catalyze reactions via radical mechanisms. Currently, he is an Associate Editor for the ACS journal Biochemistry and Deputy Editor for ACS Bio & Med Chem Gold.

Intended Audience:
Beginners, undergraduates, graduates, experts. Those with interest in the topic.

A reception will immediately follow in the Gosnell Atrium.

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Hannah Puzio
Event Snapshot
When and Where
March 06, 2024
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm
Room/Location: A300

Open to the Public

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