The water molecules, which generally move around like disco dancers in their collective network motions behave more like in a neat minuet under protein influence. The group by Prof. Dr. Martina Havenith-Newen (Physical Chemistry II Dpt., RUB) managed to find out more about the rules of this dance. They could show that protein folding changes the dancing steps of the water.
A partly unfolded protein will affect water molecules within the dynamical hydration shell to a much less extent than a folded one does. The higher the flexibility of the protein, the less affected is the water. The scientists present their conclusions as a “communication“ in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Protein Creates Order in Water
In water, weak bonds between two adjacent water molecules, referred to as the hydrogen bridge bonds, are continuously opening and closing: this happens on average every 1.3 pico seconds (one pico second = 10 power -12 seconds). “Even small concentrations of proteins in water lead to measurable changes in collective movements“, Prof. Havenith-Newen explains the results of previous studies with THz spectroscopy.
The Folding is the Important Thing
While the folded protein affects up to 1,000 water molecules in its environment, this is only true for the partly unfolded protein to a small extent. If one modifies some parts of the protein through mutation, the effect is less remarkable. These observations were now made by the scientific teams of Prof. Havenith-Newen, Prof. Dr. Martin Gruebele, and Prof. Dr. David M. Leitner from RUB, the University of Illinois and the University of Nevada, respectively. “This shows that water in the environment of folded proteins is different from that in the environment of an unfolded protein“, Prof. Havenith-Newen concludes. ”This will further support the hypothesis that protein and water are not independent of each other and do influence each other – an effect which has been considered decisive for protein folding, and which may be highly important for protein functions.“
New, Highly Precise Method of Proof
THz spectroscopy is a new, especially sensitive method of observing fast water network movement in the close vicinity of proteins with the THz frequencies ranging between microwave and infrared frequencies. Particularly strong THz laser radiation sources lasers, which has been used in chemistry for the first time by RUB, facilitates the observation of proteins in their natural environment during their fast dance with water molecules. The studies which have been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society were financed by the Human Frontier Science Programme. Martin Gruebele has stayed at the RUB Chemistry Department after being awarded the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel prize of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation.
Prof. Dr. Martina Havenith-Newen | alfa
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy