Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists learn to predict protein-stabilizing ability of small molecules

10.10.2005


’Osmolytes’ critical to survival of kidney cells and organisms in extreme environments



Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) have developed a new way to predict the ability of certain small molecules to protect proteins in the cells of a wide variety of organisms living in extreme environments. The technique, described in a paper published online Oct. 7 in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences (PNAS), is a method of calculating the stabilizing effect on cellular proteins by small organic molecules called "osmolytes." It could have implications for the study of Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, kidney disease and stabilizing protein drugs.

Osmolytes, whose effects were first well described in 1982, work to preserve various forms of life under extraordinarily hostile conditions. They keep cells alive in human kidneys, for example, despite high concentrations of the protein-destroying chemical urea; they enable a species of frog found in the Arctic literally to be frozen solid and then thawed without harm; and they make it possible for the remarkable microscopic creatures known as "water bears" to survive complete drying, exposure to intense radiation, and temperatures ranging from a few degrees above absolute zero to that of superheated steam.


In the PNAS paper, Matthew Auton and D. Wayne Bolen describe their application of thermodynamic calculations to successfully predict the ability of a variety of osmolytes to protect proteins in cells under stress. Proteins function as molecular machines, performing tasks essential for cellular survival; extremes of heat and cold and changes in the chemical environment around the cell can cause the proteins to lose their proper shape and prevent them from functioning properly. Osmolytes, however, are able to force proteins to take on the correct shape and stay on the job.

"You can think of protein structure as origami, like strips of paper folded up into unique structures," said Bolen, senior author on the paper and a professor of human biological chemistry and genetics at UTMB. "Understanding how and why they fold or unfold -- they’re not very stable, and there’s this constant pressure on them to unfold -- is a major goal of biomedical science. What we’ve done is shown that we can calculate how osmolytes will influence the stability of different proteins, and we’ve also determined how different parts of the proteins interact with the osmolytes, which can give us significant insights on the protein-folding process."

Protein folding and unfolding, Bolen said, are critical features of disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, mad cow disease and cystic fibrosis. Osmolytes perform vital functions in many different locations in the human body, notably the kidneys and the brain. "Without osmolytes, the kidneys wouldn’t function at all, and brain tissue wouldn’t be able to be as resilient as it is," Bolen said. "Medicine has only really emphasized their role in the kidneys, but they also occur in a lot of other tissues, and this technique should be quite useful for medical researchers looking at osmolytes throughout the body."

Jim Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utmb.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Topologische Quantenchemie
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

nachricht Topological Quantum Chemistry
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>