Proteins are a basis of life -- malfunctions may lead to Alzheimer's disease -- repair requires the protein structure to be known -- experimental method is cumbersome
Nothing works without proteins in the body, they are the molecular all-rounders in our cells. If they do not work properly, severe diseases, such as Alzheimer's, may result. To develop methods to repair malfunctioning proteins, their structure has to be known. Using a big data approach, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now developed a method to predict protein structures.
Homodimers are identical pairs of protein chains (proteins, green and blue) that bind to each other. Statistical analysis of protein sequences looks for mutations reflecting spatial proximity of protein segments both within the same protein (orange) and with a partner protein (red). This information can be used to predict the protein structure of the homodimer.
In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the researchers report that they succeeded in predicting even most complicated protein structures by statistical analyses irrespective of the experiment. Experimental determination of protein structures is quite cumbersome, success is not guaranteed. Proteins are the basis of life. As structural proteins, they are involved in the growth of tissue, such as nails or hairs. Other proteins work as muscles, control metabolism and immune response, or transport oxygen in the red blood cells.
The basic structure of proteins with certain functions is similar in different organisms. "No matter whether human being, mouse, whale or bacterium, nature does not constantly invent proteins for various living organisms anew, but varies them by evolutionary mutation and selection," Alexander Schug of the Steinbuch Centre for Computing (SCC) says. Such mutations can be identified easily when reading out the genetic information making up the proteins. If mutations occur in pairs, the protein sections involved mostly are located close to each other. With the help of a computer, the data of many spatially adjacent sections can be composed to an exact prediction of the three-dimensional structure similar to a big puzzle. "To understand the function of a protein in detail and to influence it, if possible, the place of every individual atom has to be known," Schug says.
For his work, the physicist uses an interdisciplinary approach based on methods and resources of computer science and biochemistry. Using supercomputers, he searched the freely available genetic information of thousands of organisms, ranging from bacteria to the human being, for correlated mutations. "By combining latest technology and a true treasure of datasets, we studied nearly two thousand different proteins. This is a completely new dimension compared to previous studies," Schug adds. He emphasizes that this shows the high performance of the method that promises to be of high potential for applications ranging from molecular biology to medicine. Although present work is fundamental research according to Schug, the results may well be incorporated in new treatment methods of diseases in the future.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) pools its three core tasks of research, higher education, and innovation in a mission. With about 9,300 employees and 25,000 students, KIT is one of the big institutions of research and higher education in natural sciences and engineering in Europe.
KIT - The Research University in the Helmholtz Association
Monika Landgraf | EurekAlert!
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy