Department of biochemistry and Molecular biology
Chris Schwabe, PhD
Evolution, is it a biological or a chemical phenomenon? Are we, the living citizens of this earth, the direct consequence of certain molecular configurations that self-assembled by the laws of chemistry and physics and that acquired the temporary status of life at a certain degree of complexity? New concepts of evolution, of molecules and species are assembled in a new hypothesis of life called the genomic potential hypothesis of evolution (GPH). Evidence for the molecular aspects of the new paradigm comes from the detailed study of the structure and function of relaxins, insulins, and similar small proteins. Isolation and sequence determinations of "mammalian hormones" from the earliest invertebrates, visible in our fossil record, have provided an interesting trail to the real reasons for protein similarity or diversity. Relaxin, for example, which varies in its primary structure by more than 55% between all purportedly close related mammals, is identical in pigs, whales, and a tunicate whose history goes back to the upper Cambrian period. There is a path of structural similarity that reaches from the present back to the beginning of multi-cellularity and has no resemblance of an evolutionary tree. These exciting leads will be pursued in our laboratory in cooperation with the Blue Holes Foundation of the Bahamas, the Fort Johnson Marine Facility in Charleston, and the Marine Station off Roscoff, France, which are able to provide an unlimited source of invertebrate and lower vertebrate species for this study. There will be ample opportunity for investigators and students to join in this foray into conceptual science via marine biology, protein chemistry, and molecular biology.
Büllesbach EE, Schwabe C. (2012) Replacement of disulfides by amide bonds in the relaxin-like factor (RLF/INSL3) reveals a role for the A11-B10 link in transmembrane signaling. Biochemistry 51(20):4198-205. PMID: 22574850
Yuan FP, Li X, Lin J, Schwabe C, Büllesbach EE, Rao CV, Lei ZM. (2010) The role of RXFP2 in mediating androgen-induced inguinoscrotal testis descent in LH receptor knockout mice. Reproduction 139(4):759-69. PMID: 20154177
Schwabe C, Büllesbach EE. The "hot wires" of the relaxin-like factor (Insl3). (2009) Ann NY Acad Sci 1160:93-8. PMID: 19416166
Büllesbach EE, Hass MA, Jensen MR, Hansen DF, Kristensen SM, Schwabe C, Led JJ. (2008) Solution structure of a conformationally restricted fully active derivative of the human relaxin-like factor. Biochemistry 47(50):13308-17. PMID: 19086273