Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Bipolar Disorder and Adenylate Cyclase 2: A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a complex mental illness whose name was Bipolar Disorder. Affecting about two percent of the population, the illness is characterised by extreme “mood swings” that cycle between episodes of mania, hypomania and depression. Then on one fateful day, the Bipolar Chemist entered this faraway land, armed with many magical methods, namely homology modelling, molecular dynamics and site-directed mutagenesis, to name but a few. He was very keen to work his magic on a particular transmembrane protein called adenylate cylase 2, an enzyme implicated as a risk factor in a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS). After receiving a prestigious School of Science and Technology Special Project award from the University of New England in 2013, the Bipolar Chemist’s lifelong dream of learning molecular modelling and simulation finally became a reality via a four-week research traineeship. With the help and support of his beloved supervisor, he worked day and night on the Swing The Mood project, examining the protein-structure relationships of adenylate cyclase 2 with respect to cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) signal transduction, a key biological pathway involved in the development of bipolar disorder. Fast-forward one year to today and alas, the Bipolar Chemist’s first ever poster is here to stay! And they all lived happily ever after…