Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCSD discovery may provide novel method to generate medically useful proteins

19.09.2005


Graphic shows molecular structure of predator protein variants (colors reveal different amino acids) Credit: Jason Miller, UCSD


A team led by UCSD biochemists has discovered the mechanism by which a simple organism can produce 10 trillion varieties of a single protein, a finding that provides a new tool to develop novel drugs.

In the September 18 advance on-line publication of the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, the researchers describe the mechanism by which a virus that infects bacteria—called a bacteriophage, or phage—can generate a kaleidoscope of variants of a particular protein. The paper will appear in print in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology in October.

Since this degree of protein diversity is extremely rare, recreating the process in a test tube could give researchers a new way to generate therapeutic enzymes, vaccines and other medically important proteins.



“This is only the second type of massively variable protein ever discovered,” explained Partho Ghosh, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSD who headed the research team. “Only antibodies have more variation than this protein in phage. However, the genetic mechanism used by the phage to generate this diversity is completely different from that used by animals to produce antibodies, and has the advantage of giving the protein greater stability.”

“If we can learn from these organisms how to set up a system that churns out proteins with enormous variability, it may be possible to target these new proteins to specific cells to treat disease,” said Stephen McMahon, a former postdoctoral fellow in Ghosh’s lab who conducted much of the research. “This idea has already been picked up by the biotech industry.”

The function of the massively variable phage protein is to tether the phage to the bacteria they infect. The phage “predator” protein fits into a “prey” protein on the bacteria like a three-dimensional puzzle piece. However, the bacteria are constantly changing the proteins on their surface. To keep up with the unpredictable changes in the prey protein, the phage must generate many different predator proteins for at least one to have an acceptable fit.

In their paper, the researchers describe how by altering the amino acids at one or more of just 12 sites on the predator protein, the phage are able to generate 10 trillion proteins, each with the potential to bind to a different prey protein. This variability arises as DNA is being copied into the RNA blueprint for the protein. The sequence of DNA bases at the 12 sites has unique characteristics that cause frequent mistakes to be made in the copying process. As a result, the RNA ends up specifying a different amino acid, and a protein with different structural and chemical properties is created.

Antibodies are another type predator protein that must respond to rapidly evolving prey proteins, because microorganisms are constantly altering proteins on their surfaces to evade the immune system. Unlike the phage protein, antibodies have a complicated loop structure. The size of the loops varies in addition to the amino acid building blocks that constitute the antibody protein. Although this mechanism can generate more than 100 trillion different antibodies, the researchers say replicating it in a test tube would be very challenging because the loops would have the tendency to fold incorrectly.

“Because of its stability, the phage protein makes a better model to create protein diversity in a test tube,” explained Jason Miller, a graduate student in Ghosh’s lab who conducted much of the research. “Our discovery shows that nature has provided at least two completely different methods to generate a huge amount of protein variability, and it opens up a whole new platform for protein development.”

Other contributors to the paper were Jeffrey Lawton, Department of Chemistry, Eastern University; Donald Kerkow, The Scripps Research Institute; Marc Marti-Renom, Eswar Narayanan, and Andrej Sali, Departments of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco; Asher Hodes, and Jeffrey Miller, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine and the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles; and Sergei Doulatov, Department of Microbiology and Medical Genetics, University of Toronto.

Stephen McMahon is now at the Centre for Biomolecular Sciences at The University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

This research was supported by a W.M. Keck Distinguished Young Scholars in Medicine Award and a UC Discovery Grant.

Sherry Seethaler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>