And I’m back! So the past week and a half has been pure misery for me. Its been a flurry of research, papers, and of course the ever fantastic GRE.
Pictured above: People who did not have to take the GRE.
Now it would be silly of me to say that the GRE is harder the MCAT. Oh I weep for those that have to take that test.
For the next week or so, I’m going to be doing a series on vitamins! Hope you all enjoy!
Discovered back in 1917, vitamin A, also known as retinol, has been known to be involved in a number of biological pathways for quite some time. Typically vitamin A exists in several different forms such as an ester or as part of a larger molecule like beta-carotene as seen below:
These structures can be processed by the body to form retinol which is further used by the body for a whole range of purposes.
You probably have heard that eating carrots is good for your eyes and well you’ll be glad to know that its completely true. Retinol is turned into retinal which is then used by your rods and cones to give you the sense of sight! The process is really simple too; just one or two enzymes. Then boom, you have sight!
There’s an even cooler purpose: regulation of genes. Retinol can be converted into retinoic acid which is used to active these proteins called nuclear receptors. These receptors and can prevent or active certain genes. I’m actually going to be synthesizing ligands for nuclear receptors so I’m pretty pumped to get back to school and start doing some science! Here’s the cool part too: we use retinoic acid as one of our controls. Okay so going back to the topic at hand, retinoic acid helps to actually activate genes, at least indirectly. By binding to certain repressors, retinoic acid paves the path for other proteins to come in and activate the gene in question.
Vitamin A is found in a ton of food, ranging from vegetables to butter to meat, so as long as you are eating something you should be fine. Just don’t take too much vitamin A as too much can lead to ironic symptoms such as blurry vision but can also cause more serious complications like hair loss and vomiting.
So go eat some carrots and help your eyes (and your genes)!