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  • a
  • affinity
    binding strength. The ability of a molecule to stick to a particular binding partner and stay stuck. It's often measured/reported with a value called the equilibrium dissociation constant, Kd. Ultimately it's the result of energetically-favorable interactions between the binding partners (you(...) Read More
  • aliquot
    "snack-size/single-use portions" of something (typically something you're saving for later use or giving to someone). For example, after you make a ton of some solution, like an antibiotic solution, and you need to freeze it for storage, you don't want to have to freeze-thaw the whole 50mL or(...) Read More
  • anion
    a negatively-charged particle. It is a type of ion (charged particle), and it's "opposite" is the cation, which is positively-charged. The charge comes from having more electrons (-) than protons (+) and can be associated with a single atom (such as Cl⁻) or a larger molecule (polyatomic(...) Read More
  • assay
    this is basically just a word for an experiment where you're measuring the "amount" of something, such as the activity of an enzyme or the "binding" of a molecule. Typically, the measurements are taken over time and/or while changing some reaction component in order to determine the inherent(...) Read More
  • atom
    the basic unit of an element (things like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, etc.). It's the smallest bit of that element that's still that element (i.e. if you took a hunk of carbon and cut it up into clumps of carbon and kept cutting those clumps in half and in half and in half, the level at(...) Read More
  • avidity
    the "bonus binding strength" that comes when a binding partner binds with multiple binding sites (is multivalent). Basically, avidity makes it so that the strength you measure (the effective or apparent affinity) is greater than if you were to add up the individual affinities of each(...) Read More
  • c
  • cation
    a positively-charged particle. It is a type of ion (charged particle), and it's "opposite" is the anion, which is negatively-charged. The charge comes from having fewer electrons (-) than protons (+) and can be associated with a single atom (such as Na⁺) or a larger molecule (polyatomic(...) Read More
  • covalent bond
    a strong bond formed between atoms by sharing pairs of electrons (1 pair for a single bond and 2 pairs for a double bond). If the sharing is unfair, and 1 of the atoms (the more electronegative one) hogs the shared electrons, we call it a polar covalent bond. Covalent bonds are(...) Read More
  • e
  • electron
    redox A negatively-charged subatomic particle. One of 3 main subatomic particles (parts of an atom). Electrons are negatively-charged and they hang out in an "electron cloud" around the dense central nucleus where the protons and neutrons live. Electrons move around a lot so you never know(...) Read More
  • enzyme
    a biochemical reaction mediator/speed-upper (catalyst). Enzymes are usually proteins (e.g. DNA polymerase), sometimes protein/RNA complexes (e.g. ribosomes), and sometimes RNA alone (ribozymes) and there are lots of different enzymes with different jobs & specificities. They bind to specific(...) Read More
  • equilibrium
    a reversible reaction or mixture's "happy place." Dynamic equilibrium occurs when the forward and backward reaction rates equalize so that the amount of the forward reaction equals the amount of the backward and the overall proportions of reactants vs products doesn't change over time (even(...) Read More
  • h
  • H-bond
    aka H-bond. a noncovalent (no-electrons shared) attraction between molecules. It can be more helpful to think of them more as attractions than "bonds" because they're "easily" reversible. The attraction comes from oppositely-charged partial charges liking each other and "hydrogen bond" is(...) Read More
  • hydrogen bond
    aka H-bond. a noncovalent (no-electrons shared) attraction between molecules. It can be more helpful to think of them more as attractions than "bonds" because they're "easily" reversible. The attraction comes from oppositely-charged partial charges liking each other and "hydrogen bond" is(...) Read More
  • hyper-
    a prefix used to mean "over" or "more than." I remember it as "hyper -> over" (as opposed to its opposite, "hypo-" ("hypo-below"). Another way to remember is that hyper people have a lot of energy! We can stick hyper- in front of a lot of different terms (e.g. hypertonic, hyperosmotic). Read More
  • hypo-
    a prefix used to mean "under" or "less than." I remember it as "hypo - below" (as opposed to its opposite, "hyper-" ("hyper-over"). We can stick hypo- in front of a lot of different terms (e.g. hypotonic, hypoosmotic). You might have heard it in more "normal talk" in the context of(...) Read More
  • i
  • ion
    a charged particle. This umbrella term can refer to a positively-charged particle (cation) or a negatively-charged particle (anion). The charge comes from having an unequal number of protons (+) & electrons (-) and can be associated with a single atom (such as Na⁺ or Cl⁻) or a larger(...) Read More
  • ionic bond
    aka salt bridge, a strong noncovalent attraction between 2 charged molecules (ions), a negatively-charged on (anion) and a positively-charged one (cation). There is no electron sharing involved, but they stick together because they like each other's opposite charge. Because ionic bonds(...) Read More
  • iso-
    a prefix used to mean "same." We can stick iso- in front of a lot of different terms that we also stick hypo- (below) and hyper- (over) in front of (e.g. isotonic, isoosmotic). But iso- can be put in front of a lot of other words too. For example, "nuclear isotopes" refers to versions of the(...) Read More
  • k
  • Kd
    equilibrium dissociation constant. A measure of binding affinity (binding strength) - the tendency of a molecule to stick to a particular binding partner and stay stuck. tells you how much of one binding partner (in terms of concentration, often in some form of molarity) you need to add(...) Read More
  • l
  • ligand
    a binding partner. This term is often used when talking about receptor proteins. So, for example, insulin is the ligand for the insulin receptor and opioids are the the ligands for opioid receptors. Ligand is similar to the word "substrate" but substrate refers specifically to ligands of(...) Read More
  • n
  • neutron
    radioactive; isotopes a neutral (non-charged) subatomic particle (atom part). It hangs out with positively-charged protons in an atom's dense central nucleus, surrounded by a sea of negatively-charged electrons. Neutrons contribute to an atom's mass, but not an atom's charge. Elements are(...) Read More
  • noncovalent bond
    a relatively weak bond formed between molecules without sharing electrons. It can be more helpful to think of them more as attractions than "bonds" because they're "easily" reversible. Just how easy depends on the strength of the attraction. The attraction comes from charges and/or partial(...) Read More
  • p
  • proton
    a positively-charged subatomic particle. One of 3 main types of subatomic particles (parts of atoms). Protons hang out with neutral neutrons in a dense central nucleus and are surrounded by a cloud of negatively-charged electrons. The number of protons an atom has determines what element(...) Read More
  • r
  • recombinant
    used to describe DNA that has been "recombined" from more than 1 source through molecular cloning and/or the proteins expressed from such DNA. For example, you can take the gene for a protein you want to study out of one place (either cut it out with restriction enzymes or use PCR to make(...) Read More
  • residue
    a word for amino acids (protein letters) after they've been incorporated into proteins or peptides. Amino acids get their name because they have an amino group on one end and a carboxylic acid group on the other end. When amino acids join together through peptide bonds, they do so by joining(...) Read More
  • s
  • substrate
    something that an enzyme binds & transforms into "product." remember Substrate-Start. It's the "S" in E + S - [ES] - P (where E is enzyme, S is substrate, and P is product) For example, in our stick-snapper enzyme example (where an enzyme binds and snaps sticks), the stick-snapper is the(...) Read More
  • t
  • transfection
    when you stick foreign (exogenous) genetic information (like DNA) into eukaryotic cells (cells with membrane-bound “rooms” like nuclei inside) - things like animal cells). It's a form of transformation, but we call it transfection so it doesn’t get confused with tumor transformation (just(...) Read More
  • transformation
    when you stick foreign (exogenous) genetic information (like DNA) into a cell. Typically used to refer to sticking DNA into bacteria - when we do the same put DNA into eukaryotic cells (cells with membrane-bound “rooms” like nuclei inside) - things like animal cells) we call it transfection(...) Read More
  • v
  • valency
    depends on context... If you're talking about ions (charged particles) valency refers to the "number of charges" (e.g. Na⁺ is monovalent whereas Ca²⁺ is bivalent). If you're talking about binding partners, it refers to the number of binding sites - monovalent binders have a single binding(...) Read More
  • vector
    a "vehicle" that provides a "backbone" for sticking a piece of genetic information (transgene or "insert") that you want in cells that you want. A few common types are plasmids, viral vectors, & artificial chromosomes. Vectors can differ in how much DNA they can hold, how they get into cells,(...) Read More
  • w
  • wild-type
    the "normal" naturally-occurring version of something (protein, gene, bacterial strain, etc.) (as compared to a mutated version of it and/or something derived from it). So, for example, if you're studying some protein and you make different versions (aka constructs) with different amino acid(...) Read More