This, my friends, is a gem I picked up a few months ago at surplus for $2. It’s a really old Western blot tank.For those of you who don’t know, a Western blot is a way scientists have of looking for the presence of specific protein in a sample.
The samples are put into this lovely box, and undergo something called gel electrophoresis. You load the samples into a gel tray, and then run a current across it in the box. Because the proteins will move through the gel based on how large they are (the smaller the protein, the faster it will move), you can look for the presence of a band in the same size as your protein of interest.
A standardized “ladder” is used to help figure out the sizes of the protein(s) you have. There are a lot of other steps to the Western blot process, but I’ve explained what this tank does.Now, I originally bought this tank basically to harvest its parts. I want the metal terminals sticking out of the top, and I want the platinum wire inside of it too. Why? So that I can use it for another technique called Clarity. I’ll do another post on this soon. Anyway, there I was at my desk, ready to tear the tank apart, and I read on the side the name “Krebs”. So I stop.Dr. Edwin Krebs won the Nobel Prize in 1992 along with Dr. Edmond Fischer. They received this honor for their discovery of reversible phosphorylation. What is that and why is it important? Basically, phosphorylation occurs when a phosphate (pictured below) is added to a protein.
Usually, adding the phosphate activates the protein, allowing it to perform a certain function. Dephosphorylation, taking away the phosphate, deactivates it. A lot of proteins in our cells undergo phosphorylation/dephosphorylation. And this action allows the proteins to play important roles in various chains of events that are vital to cell function.
So, Krebs and Fischer made this discovery at my current school, the University of Washington, in the biochemistry department. Later, Krebs came back to UW and became chair of my department. It’s been a long time since that happened, though, so I’m surprised any of the equipment from Krebs’ lab even lasted this long. I plugged the sucker in and it’s still functional!