Published paper review, numero uno…Leigh Syndrome- A mitochondrial DNA related disease.

So I must express how much I disliked doing this published paper review. My reason being is that many publish papers that I could sourced online were not free and also those that I did manage to have access to were very long and complex to interpret and comprehend. I decided to base my review on an organelle associated disease when I came across an article on Leigh syndrome. Before my conducting my research I had actually never heard of Leigh syndrome. I must say however, I am genuinely depressed after reading about how young children are affected by this disorder.I hope that my review on Leigh syndrome enlightens my readers and inspires you to do more research and truly hope that maybe one of the biochemians reading this blog becomes the scientific savior to discover the cure for such a terrible disease.

Leigh Syndrome is also known as juvenile subacute necrotizing encephalopathy and is associated with  Mitochondrial DNA mutation. It is a severe neurological disease that usually arises between 3 to 12 months of age and often occurs after viral infection.  This disease is associated with psychomotor regression as well as gradual loss of mental ability. Close to half of all affected individuals perish before age three due to respiratory or cardiac failure. Very few individuals develop this disorder in their adulthood.

Characteristic symptoms of Leigh’s disease include dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and  persistent vomiting. Hyperventillation or irregular respiration , hypothermia and hyperthermia may be caused by brain lesions. The muscles of individuals suffering with Leigh syndrome are usually negatively affected. The individual may develop hypotonia or weak muscle tone, dystonia or involuntary muscle contractions as well as axtaxia or movement and balance problems. Peripheral neuropathy characterized by weakness or loss of sensitivity in limbs is common with affected individuals hence their ability to move is impaired.The eyes of the affected individual can also be affected and they may experience eye movement disorders and retinitis pigmentosa.

Cardiac ailments such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hepatic disorders and renal disorders such diffuse glomerulocystic kidney damage are also common amongst affected individuals. The majority of affected individuals will show progressive deterioration with interfused with stages where they may show improvement which can last up to ten years in some cases. However it is more likely that the person will die around age 2 to three years. Also associated with Leigh syndrome are high levels of lactate in urine, blood or  cerebrospinal fluid of patients.

Brain lesions  (detected via Magnetic resonance imaging) are found in the  basal ganglia (movement associated region) the cerebellum (region associated with balance,coordination and movement) as well as the the brainstem. Demyelination  (loss of myelin coating around nerves) in conjuction with these brain lesions reduces the ability of muscle activation as well as the relay of sensory impulses back to the brain.

About 30% of Leigh syndrome is mitochondria DNA related. Most of the genes associated with Leigh syndrome are involved in energy generation in the mitochondria. This disease can be inherited by X linked transmission, autosomal linked transmission, maternal transmission or it may be sporadic. Many of the gene mutations associated with this disease affect proteins of protein complexes that are involved in oxidative phosphorylation (the process whereby the mitochondria uses oxygen to break down food into energy for use by the cell). There are other nuclear DNA mutations characteristic of Leigh’s syndrome which also affect steps concerning energy production and oxidative phosphorylation. Researchers link impaired oxidative phosphorylation to cell death  and tissues that require large amounts of energy including the brain, heart and muscles are especially affected.

There is unfortunately no cure for Leigh’s syndrome and the treatment is limited and not entirely effective.



Youtube video review…numero dos!

For my second Youtube video review I decided to pick a video using the opposite reasoning that was used to select my video for the first review. This time, rather than choose a topic that challenged me, i opted to go with a topic that I was well versed in and that it carbohydrates. The logic behind my choice of topic was that I would be able to access whether or not the information was useful and accurate.

Video title: Carbohydrates.

Youtube channel: Bozeman Biology.

Main points of the video:

Carbohydrates provide energy as well as structure (example cellulose in plants or chitin in the exoskeleton of an insect which is also the building block of fungi.)

1 sugar molecule= a monosaccharide

2 sugar molecules= a disaccharide

3-10 sugar molecules= an oligosaccharide.

Many sugar molecules linked together= a polysaccharide.

Empirical formula of all carbohydrates are the same: CH20 (ratio 1:2:1)

Glucose is the simplest sugar (6 Carbon) A lot of hydroxyl groups which makes it soluble in water. This is why it is utilized in the following:

a.cellular respiration.

b. produced by plants in photosynthesis.

Fructose: 5 sided sugar, sweeter than glucose. Found in fruit and corn syrup.

Galactose: A little less sweet than glucose.

Glucose, fructose and Galactose are the 3 basic monosaccharides. They all can be moved through our blood.

Sucrose/ table sugar(a disaccharide) =  Glucose + Fructose (both monosaccharides)

Sucrose must be broken down to it’s monosaccharides by sucrose before it can be used by the body.

Lactose= Glucose + Galactose.

Lactose broken down by lactase.

Lactose intolerance: Condition whereby a person lacks the enzyme lactase which leads to an irritation in the gut due to the fact that lactose cannot be broken down into its respective monosaccharides.

Lactose intolerance/tolerance is naturally selected.


Biological Importance:

Important in the production of glycoproteins.

Fun fact: carrots have to be cooked for an hour for the body to be able to obtain the sugar from it.


Eg: starch (hundreds of glucose molecules linked together)

can be found in potatoes.

Is the storage molecule of plants.


A macromolecule with thousands of glucose molecules.

The storage molecule of animals.

Stored in the liver.


Structural  purpose.

Hydrogen cross bonds make it very durable.

Humans won’t have the enzymes to break it down in the gut. Bacteria in the gut of cows will help to break them down into sugars.


The breaking of sugars with the addition of water.


Losing a water molecule and forming a covalent bond between two monosaccharides.

Evolutionary Importance of sugar:

Sugar is an indicator of fruit and fruits contain other important nutrients needed by the human body. This is why humans are “programmed” to love sugar. However, too much sugar in the diet is now leading to an increase in heart disease and diabetes

My thoughts on this video: Once again I have randomly chosen a video that exceeds my expectations in a positive way.

Pros of this video:

1. The Youtube uploader Paul Andersen teaches science at Bozeman High School in Bozeman, MT. He is also the 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year. These credential speak volumes to me. They assure me that the information I am receiving  is very much accurate, reliable and specifically targeted towards students like myself.

2. The format of the video was very professional and well edited. I enjoyed that I could see the teacher in a smaller screen while he spoke and explained the concepts on the slides. This creates a classroom experience with out being in a classroom and made me feel like I was having a one on one class with the teacher.

3. Mr. Anderson spoke with simple language that was easy to understand and was able to break down complex terms in a way in which they could be easily comprehended.

4. I admire the use of pictures as well as chemical structures of what ever he was speaking about. Its easier to learn something by seeing it. These figure will also play a role in remembering material since the brain is likely to associate facts with specific pictures.

5. The duration of the video was perfect, not too long, not too short. I was very impressed at the amount of material covered in the space of time and how he was able to explain things a such a manageable pace.

6. I loved that I actually learnt something new in this video despite covering the topic in school already. I learnt that latose intolerance was naturally selected. He explains that  if our ancestors raised cattle they were more likely to continue drinking milk through out their life  and on the other hand if they didn’t that it would be unlikely for them to drink milk regularly in their adulthood and as such lactase would not function the same. I also enjoyed learning about the evolutionary importance of carbohydrates.

Cons: As with my previous video review, I honestly have no negative reviews or improvements for this video. I think it is fantastic just the way it is and I am really glad that I found this channel, I’m sure it will come in handy during my study sessions.

Conclusion: Paul Andersen presented information on carbohydrates with the flair of an experienced educator. Any one will be able to understand these biochemistry related concepts with his explanations. I recommend these videos to any student who wants a clear and concise breakdown on carbohydrates. If I were to rate this video I would give it 5 out of 5 stars 🙂

Amino Acids and Proteins Cryptogram solution and Bonus Amino Acid question….

So For those of you who attempted my amino acids and proteins crytogram here is the message that you were supposed to decipher:


Yup taken straight from BiochemJM’s awesome youtube amino acids and protein series of videos. Congratulations if you figured it out. Your prize is another challenge….

Challenge accepted you say? I’d think twice about that….

My Bonus Amino Acid question for you is…..

What is Sheldon Cooper’s favorite amino acid? *muhahahaha evil laugh* bet you weren’t expecting that 😛 take a look at this clip to find out

DUHHH it’s lysine!!  Isn’t lysine is everybody’s favorite amino acid?? 😛 haha . Wondering why Sheldon’s favorite amino acid is Lysine? Maybe the following facts will help us to understand his choice…

Lysine is an essential amino acid that can be found in animal protein. This means that the human body cannot synthesize lysine on its own but since it is necessary for various functions it must be obtained through our diets. Lysine is integral for producing antibodies, enzymes and hormones and is essential for growth and repair of tissues. L-lysine aids in the body’s absorption and retention of calcium as well as enhances the immune system. Sources of lysine include chicken,turkey, pork, eggs and fish to name a few. For our vegetarian friends, legumes and soy products are a good source of L-lysine.

Deficiency of lysine is rare but the symptoms will include enzyme disorders, lack of energy, hair loss, weight loss and retarded growth and anemia to name a few.

L-lysine is used as a supplement to treat the herpes simplex virus as well as prevent osteoporosis and cataracts. L-lysine also helps manufacture carnitine which is a nutrient that helps to lower cholesterol levels and converts fatty acids into energy. L-lysine also enhances the production of collagen in conjunction with Vitamin C. This is why L-lysine  has shown to be effective in the treatment of skin lesions associated with herpes as well as shingles.

Although the list of benefits of Lysine go on and on it must be noted that excessive build up of protein in the body can lead to liver and kidney problems.


Taking a passion for Biochemistry to another level!

Nerdy Nails!

So I just stumbled across this picture on one of my favorite facebook pages, I’ll be sure to link it down below. The picture was uploaded with the caption “If you’re going to be a dirty cheater, at least you’ll look good doing it!” LOL who would of thought nail art could be used to “assist” us in exams 😛


Biochemistry is a piece of Cake! Literally 😛

Check out this cool video showing you how to make your very own Plant cell cake. How creative! I’m pretty sure I would remember all the organelles of the plant cell by associating them with candy, who wouldn’t?! They say the best way to a biochemistry student’s brain is through their stomach…or at least that’s what I say .*hint hint Mr.Matthew make us a cell cake for being such awesome students :p *. Ah yes,  cells never looked better, If any citizen of biochem nation feels inspired to recreate their very own cell cake be sure to send it to me to uh… make sure the organelles are accurate and what not 😛

Once again thank you for visiting biochem nation, hope to see u in the next post! 😀



Prokaryotic cells vs Eukaryotic Cells

So dear citizens of Biochem nation, if you read my tutorial tell all you would know that I crashed and burned when it came to my turn to give a difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells that hadn’t already been mentioned. Naturally, being the fearless awesome leader of Biochem nation that I am, I wasn’t about to accept defeat just yet. So I decided to do my research. Rather than present my findings in the traditional cut and paste to a word document (YAWNNN boringgg lol) I decided to present the differences and similarities in a venn diagram that I made using excel. I enjoyed this activity because before this I didn’t even know how to make a venn diagram or really use excel for that matter (sad I know :P).  I also enjoyed this activity thoroughly because it was a much more  fun way of learning this material and it is easier for me to remember because my brain now has mental image of the venn diagram stored for days when I will most need it J So I think this will be a great way  for those of you out there with “photographic memory” to remember the differences and similarities of Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic cells . Hence , I decided to share it with you all, because sharing is caring  yayyyyyy *insert sprinkles and rainbows here* LOL


so click on it to enlarge and happy learning my biochemians, hope this proves to be useful to someone out there 🙂

Biochemistry who are you?! and what do you want from me?!!


So the epic question that every university student secretly asks themselves (oh gosh besides “I wonder if to go Zen or 51 tonight?” 😛 ) is : “How is *insert course name here* relevant to my life?!”  At times we get frustrated when the course material becomes more complex and wonder, to put it quite frankly, why the hell am I studying this and how does this even apply to real life? I’ll admit that the thought crossed my mind once or twice with biochemistry. Truthfully sometimes some concepts in science can make us relate to Channing Tatum in 21 jump street:


…..If you watched the movie you’ll definitely remembered what he said here 😛

I for one am a “see it to believe it “ kinda gal, meaning I’m very uninterested in studying something if I can’t witness it first hand or experience it. I like to actually understand work that I’m studying versus merely memorizing material. I find that this is the key to mastering various topics and that it fuels my interest or desire in said field of study. So upon browsing the internet for blog worthy material I stumbled across this informative article entitled “ Biochemistry: The Career Guide” presented by the Biochemical Society and thought I would share it with you, the citizens of Biochem nation J I am going to provide a quick overview of the article and share with you what I feel are the main points of this article but I will also link it down below if you are interested in reading it yourself which I highly recommend.

So the article begins by showing the readers the relevance of biochemistry and its role in combating major issues for example:

  1. Did you know that biochemistry has a hand to play in the development of drugs and medicines which aid in treatment of neurological disorders including Parkinsons disease, schizophrenia,  and AHDH (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) to name a few? This is all possible due to research of biochemists regarding message transmission and the brain. Pretty cool right?
  2. Any CSI fans in the house? Well, did you know that biochemists are responsible for advancements in forensics and genetic investigations? This is all feasible due to biochemists discovering that we all have our own “genetic finger print.” This means that it’s possible to track down family members by analyzing DNA and is extremely useful in criminal investigations. So basically if it weren’t for biochemists’ interest in this realm of study, shows like maury would not be the same….Image….Television would be incomplete without the: I’m not the father dance/ handstand… it’s a classic really.All jokes aside though, in the broader sense this is useful in better comprehension of evolution. Yup, that is pretty awesome!
  3. I think it is safe to say we’re all familiar with the following diseases :  Diabetes, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. The unfortunate reality is that I’m sure every one of us knows at least one person who is or has been affected by at least one of these diseases. But never fear biochemists are here!  Image
  4. 😉 oh yeahhhh!!!

    Biochemists research has made it possible to analyze diseases like these at a molecular level thus they are able to make diagnoses more efficient and this leads to development of useful drugs and medicines that can be tailored to a patients genetic makeup. Incredible!

    The article continues by explaining exactly what biochemistry is. Essentially biochemistry revolves around:

    1. Chemical processes that take place inside of all living organisms.
    2. E xamination at a molecular level, that is, at a smaller level. For example biochemistry explores what takes place inside of cells, how cells communicate with each other and analyzes the different components of cells (eg: proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids etc.)
    3. Identification of specific genes and what they code for.

    Basically biochemistry is closely related to the following fields:  medicine, microbiology, forensics and genetics to name a few.

    The article then proceeds to give you information on what a general biochemistry course would involve (ie. What topics are studied) and useful information on various degrees related to biochemistry. This is pretty useful information that you can take into consideration if you’re wondering what type of degree you want to pursue, I know some of us are still pretty lost when it comes to what academic path we wish to follow.

    Finally something that I was glad that they included in this article was the testimonials by various individuals who pursued a biochemistry or biochemistry related degree. What I love about this is that it shows the reader that career opportunities for someone who has studied biochemistry are limitless! It also shows the reader the various ways in which skills and concepts learned in biochemistry courses can be utilized whether you are a research scientist, a pharmaceutical consultant or even a videogame producer!

    So my fellow biochemians I hope this post was informative to you and I sincerely hope that I reached out to those of you who are unsure as to whether or not you would like to pursue Biochemistry in year 2. This short article really opened my eyes and influenced my opinion on biochemistry dramatically. I can honestly say I appreciate biochemists even more after reading it. Be sure to check it out!

    the website:

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