Researchers using extremely high resolution imaging have found an atomic switch capable of discriminating color in a bacterial membrane protein.
In a paper posted today on Science Express, the rapid advance publication page of Science, scientists from The University of Texas Medical School at Houston and the University of California , Irvine , describe the versatile light-sensing protein at levels of resolution smaller than a nanometer – one billionth of a meter.
“High-resolution X-ray crystallography revealed the light-absorbing part of the protein was present in two alternative positions, suggesting to us that light of different colors drives this protein back and forth between two differently colored states of the protein,” said corresponding author John L. Spudich, Ph.D., director of the Center for Membrane Biology in the UT Medical School Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “Chemical analysis and spectroscopic methods then proved that the switch, buried in the middle of this membrane-embedded protein, similar in structure to our visual pigments, is controlled by blue versus orange photon absorption.” Spudich said.
Scott Merville | EurekAlert!
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