Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The hidden lives of proteins

03.12.2009
For the first time, experimental evidence shows that hidden protein structures are essential for catalysis

An important Brandeis study appearing in the December 3 issue of Nature raises the curtain on the hidden lives of proteins at the atomic level. The study reports that for the first time, researchers used x-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques to directly visualize protein structures essential for catalysis at the rare high-energy state. The study also showed how the motions of these rare, or hidden, structures collectively, directly contribute to enzyme catalysis.

In doing so, the study also suggests new molecular sites for potential drug targets, the cornerstone of rational drug design. Drugs may bind, or dock, to the infrequent high-energy states of target enzymes that have been hidden to traditional structural methods. The thinking is that drugs can be designed by docking algorithms to a collection of protein structures, not just one, providing better bio-molecular targeting.

This study comes in the wake of earlier Brandeis studies aimed at advancing understanding of protein function using pioneering techniques such as NMR. For a long time, scientists viewed proteins more or less as macromolecular wallflowers, venturing out onto the atomic-level dance floor to perform only during catalysis, their active state.

Then, several years ago, Brandeis biophysicist Dorothee Kern reported in Nature that her lab's experiments using NMR also linked protein function to their much rarer high-energy state, in the absence of catalysis. That study helped put to rest the conventional wisdom that proteins actually rest at all.

This Nature study takes Kern's research to the next level, seeing the high-resolution structure of the hidden, high-energy state for the first time. For this success, high –resolution x-ray crystallography was further pushed by analyzing electron density data previously discarded as "noise" and by collecting data at ambient temperature. The protein of interest is human cyclophilin A, an enzyme that is highjacked by the HIV virus to aid its own replication.

But it was thanks to some clever protein design together with dynamic NMR spectroscopy that provided direct experimental evidence that the hidden structures in the high-energy state are in fact essential for catalysis. The researchers revealed what happens when proteins flip from the rare state to a major state in a process called interconversion. If this flip is fast, then the enzyme does its job fast, but if the flip is slow, as in the designer enzyme, then the enzyme operates slowly.

"People always focused on the chemistry—accelerating the reaction through catalyzing the chemical step of the substrates. What we've shown is that protein dynamics is as important as the chemical step," said Kern, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. "Basically, all the steps need to be choreographed just right, like steps for a beautiful dancer. An enzyme can only function well with the perfect choreography of all the components."

Said Kern: "We now can show directly that the higher energy states are always there and that these hidden, rare states are absolutely essential for protein function."

Laura Gardner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brandeis.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>