Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant Protein Shape Puzzle Solved by Molecular 3-D Model

16.04.2013
Researchers from North Carolina State University believe they have solved a puzzle that has vexed science since plants first appeared on Earth.

In a groundbreaking paper published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers provide the first three-dimensional model of an enzyme that links a simple sugar, glucose, into long-chain cellulose, the basic building block within plant cell walls that gives plants structure. Cellulose is nature’s most abundant renewable biomaterial and an important resource for production of biofuels that represent alternatives to fossil fuels.


The 3-D molecular model of a plant cellulose synthase no longer remains elusive.

New understanding of the structure of the modeled plant enzyme, a cellulose synthase, may allow researchers to genetically engineer plants and trees for better cotton fibers or stronger wood, for example. From a materials engineering perspective, the findings can also be used to create beneficial nanocrystals with desired properties and functions.

“This structural model gives us insight into how cellulose synthesis works,” said Dr. Yaroslava Yingling, an NC State materials science and engineering professor who is the corresponding author on the study. “In the long term, it could result in new genetically modified plants that can be tweaked to induce specific engineered properties of cellulose.”

The study examined the structure of one cellulose synthase found in cotton fibers. The researchers compared their model with the structure of a similar enzyme in bacteria and found that the proteins were similarly folded in key regions required for cellulose synthesis. In the lab rat of the plant family – Arabidopsis thaliana, or mustard weed – the researchers identified potential causes for defective cellulose synthesis in mutant plants by making analogies to the modeled cotton cellulose synthase.

“Without the enzyme structure, you can’t make strategically designed, rational projections about how to make beneficial changes to the proteins – but now you can,” said Dr. Candace Haigler, an NC State crop scientist and plant biologist who co-authored the study. “In the future we could make cellulose easier to break down into biofuels while ensuring that the plants themselves are able to grow well.”

Latsavongsakda Sethaphong, an NC State doctoral student, co-authored the study, as did researchers from Penn State University, the University of Virginia, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and the University of Kentucky. The computational research was supported as part of The Center for LignoCellulose Structure and Formation, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science.

- kulikowski -

Note to editors: An abstract of the paper follows.

Tertiary Model of a Plant Cellulose Synthase

Authors: Latsavongsakda Sethaphong, Candace H. Haigler and Yaroslava G. Yingling, North Carolina State University; James D. Kubicki, Penn State University; Jochen Zimmer, University of Virginia; Dario Bonetta, University of Ontario Institute of Technology; Seth DeBolt, University of Kentucky

Published: Online April 15, 2013, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Abstract: A three-dimensional atomistic model of a plant cellulose synthase (CESA) has remained elusive despite over forty years of experimental effort. Here we report a computationally predicted three dimensional structure of 506 amino acids of cotton CESA within the cytosolic region. Comparison of the predicted plant CESA structure with the solved structure of a bacterial cellulose-synthesizing protein validates the overall fold of the modeled glycosyltransferase (GT) domain. The co-aligned plant and bacterial GT domains share a six-stranded ß-sheet, five ?-helices, and conserved motifs similar to those required for catalysis in other GT-2 glycosyltransferases. Extending beyond the cross-kingdom similarities related to cellulose polymerization, the predicted structure of cotton CESA reveals that plant specific modules (‘plant conserved region’, P-CR, and ‘class specific region’, CSR) fold into distinct subdomains on the periphery of the catalytic region. Computational results support the importance of the P-CR and/or CSR in CESA oligomerization to form the multimeric cellulose-synthesis complexes that are characteristic of plants. Relatively high sequence conservation between plant CESAs allowed mapping of known mutations and two novel mutations that perturb cellulose synthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana to their analogous positions in the modeled structure. Most of these mutations sites are near the predicted catalytic region, and the confluence of other mutation sites supports the existence of previously undefined functional nodes within the catalytic core of CESA. Overall, the predicted tertiary structure provides a platform for the biochemical engineering of plant CESAs.

Mick Kulikowski | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>