biophysics vs. biochem speculatin'....

C. Greiner cgreiner at blue.weeg.uiowa.edu
Fri Nov 3 02:39:37 EST 1995

On Thu, 2 Nov 1995, George Munson wrote:

> > a) the **physical** arrangement of the peptide bonds - do the bonds and
> > the amino acids they're attached to form a smooth, rather than jagged
> > or discrete, surface?
> > 
> > b) the tertiary or quarternary folding of the protein(s) in his fur -
> > ie, are the proteins physically arranged in some special way so that
> > they are experienced by us as being *soft*?
> > 
> > c) the sequencing of the amino acids themselves, or
> > 
> > d) some other phenomenom that I haven't thought of and probably can't
> > even imagine right now?
> Hmm.  Okay this is my best guess and I chose "b."  I doubt tactile
> perception is sensitive enough to distinguish peptide bonds or aa sequence
> per se.  What you perceive is the much larger scale of the hair which is
> of course ultimately a result of c, a, and b.  My guess is softness is
> related to rigidity or the lack thereof.  Rigidity of the overall hair
> would likely arise from intermolecular disulfide cross linkages which
> would be tertiary/quartenary in nature.
> -- 
> George Munson
> BMBCB, Northwestern University
> Evanston, IL   USA   
> george-munson at nwu.edu

Although I agree (mostly) with George I wonder if the answer is not "d" 
with the "softness" relating to the degree of secretion of oils onto the 
hair rather than the actual molecular structure of the hair itself. Thus 
the reason high price furs are often from water associated mammals (oil 
serves as a water barrier) e.g. beaver, mink, fur seal, otter, etc... 

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