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 For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another
27.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

nachricht New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>