Research Integrated Science Education – Course Glossary

  • ACE inhibitor: heart medication that increases the amount of blood your heart pumps and lowers blood pressure by dilating, or widening, your blood vessels
  • Acrylamide gel: a medium for performing gel electrophoresis which contains long chains of amide groups
  • Affinity chromatography: a method used to purify a biological material from a mixture utilizing the physical binding/interaction of two substances (eg. antibody and antigen, receptor and ligand, protein and nucleic acid, etc.)
  • Amino acid: the structural units that form proteins
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme 1: a membrane-bound enzyme that converts angiotensin 1 into the active vasoconstrictor angiotensin 2
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2:  a membrane-bound enzyme that converts angiotensin 2 into the vasodilator angiotensin 1-7
  • Angiotensinogen: a protein (specifically a hormone) secreted by the liver that serves as the starting material for the production of angiotensin 1 and 2
  • Antibody: a large, “Y” shaped protein that binds directly to one protein or antigen with high specificity
  • Apoptosis: a form of programmed cell death which occurs throughout development and as a mechanism to eliminate damaged cells
  • Beta-galactosidase: a family of enzymes that cleave β-galactosides into monosaccharides via the breaking of a glycosidic bond
  • Buffer solution: an aqueous solution that resists changes in pH when small amounts of acid or base are added
  • Cancer: an abnormal growth of cells which exhibit uncontrolled proliferation and, in some cases, metastasize and invade other tissues in the body
  • Denature: disrupting the molecular conformation of a protein
  • Detergent: a molecule with polar and nonpolar components that disrupts the hydrophobic/hydrophilic interactions of biological substances (e.g. breaking apart a cell membrane)
  • Eastern blot: a technique used to assess the presence of post-translational modifications such as phosphates, lipids, or carbohydrate epitopes
  • Elution: the process of removing one substance from another, usually by addition of a solvent
  • Fibroblasts: a type of cell that synthesizes the extracellular matrix and collagen fibers
  • Fibrosis: the formation of an abnormal amount of fibrous tissue in an organ or other part of the body as the result of inflammation, irritation, or healing
  • Fixing: preserving biological tissue by terminating cellular processes and stabilizing the structure of the cell or tissue
  • Flow-through: a liquid (which pay or may not contain particles such as protein, salts, or other molecules) that has passed through a column
  • Fluorophore: a chemical compound that can absorb and re-emit light
  • Forward scatter: a measurement of cell size due to the conversion of light diffraction into an electrical signal
  • Granularity: the internal complexity of a cell
  • Granzymes: serine proteases released by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and natural killer cells (NK cells) that induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) in target cells
  • Hypertension: high blood pressure
  • Immunofluorescent staining: a laboratory technique that utilizes fluorescent-labeled antibodies to detect specific target antigens on or within cells and tissues
  • Lyse: the breaking down of a cell due to damage of the outer cellular membrane
  • Macrophage: a specialized type of white blood cell responsible for destroying bacteria and other harmful pathogens. These cells can also present antigens which activate other cells of the immune system
  • Model organisms: a non-human species that can be studied to understand particular biological phenomena. The results from studies involving model organisms can be applied to humans
  • Mutant analysis: observing changes in an organism that result from the presence of a genetic mutation
  • Northern blot: a laboratory technique used to detect the presence of specific RNA molecules from a larger pool of RNA
  • Perforin: a cytolytic protein produced by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and natural killer cells (NK cells). When released, perforin polymerizes and forms pores in the plasma membrane of a target cell
  • Permeabilizing: the process of making something porous
  • Phenotype: a set of observable traits possessed by an organism that result from both genetic and environmental factors
  • Phosphorylation: a reversible protein modification where a phosphate group is covalently attached to a protein. The phosphate group regulates the function of the protein
  • Polymerase chain reaction: a laboratory technique used to amplify a specific region of DNA to a level that can be analyzed
  • Primary antibody: a large, “Y” shaped protein that binds directly to one protein or antigen with high specificity
  • Protein ladder: a set of protein standards used to estimate the size of experimental protein samples run during gel electrophoresis
  • Pull-down assay: a type of affinity chromatography where one protein is purified from a mixture (prey) because if it’s affinity for an immobilized binding partner (bait protein)
  • Quantitative polymerase chain reaction: a laboratory technique that monitors the amplification of a specific region of DNA (generated from an RNA template)
  • Renin: an enzyme secreted by and stored in the kidneys, which facilitates the production of angiotensin from angiotensinogen
  • Reverse transcriptase: an enzyme capable of generating complementary DNA (cDNA) from an RNA template
  • Reverse transcription: the process by which an enzyme (reverse transcriptases) makes a copy of DNA from an RNA template
  • Secondary antibody: a large, “Y” shaped protein that binds directly to the Fc region of a primary antibody
  • Senescence: a state of permanent cell cycle arrest after sustained DNA damage
  • Senescence-associated beta-galactosidase assay: a laboratory technique which relies on the native function of beta-galactosidase enzymes. These enzymes cleave a synthetic substrate which produces a blue color in senescent cells
  • Senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP): the collection of secreted factors released by senescent cells
  • Sheath fluid: a pH balanced buffer solution that runs through a flow cytometer at a constant flow rate allows for effective analysis of individual cells
  • Side scatter: a measurement of the internal complexity of a cell based on the reflection and refraction of light
  • Signal transduction: the transmission of cellular signals from the external environment to/through the internal environment of the cell
  • Southern blot: a laboratory technique used to detect the presence of specific DNA sequence from a larger pool of DNA molecules
  • Vasoconstrictor: a substance that constricts or closes the blood vessel which, in turn, increases blood pressure
  • Vasodilator: a substance that dilates (opens) blood vessels, which allows blood to flow more easily
  • Wash buffer: a solution with a designated pH that is used to remove impurities or excess substances from a reaction or mixture (eg. a wash buffer removes excess protein from a pull-down assay, and it removes it removes salt or cellular debris from nucleic acid extractions)
  • Western blot: a technique used to detect specific proteins from a larger mixture
  • Western blot membrane: a microporous substance which binds proteins
  • Wild-type: a gene, strain, or specific characteristic that is most common among individuals in a natural setting (the “normal” gene, allele, or trait)

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