Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Similarities cause protein misfolding

31.05.2011
A large number of illnesses stem from misfolded proteins, molecules composed of amino acids. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now studied protein misfolding using a special spectroscopic technique. Misfolding, as they report in Nature, is more frequent if the sequence of the amino acids in the neighboring protein domains is very similar.

Proteins are the main molecular machines in our bodies. They perform a wide range of functions, from digesting and processing nutrients, converting energy and aiding cell structure to transmitting signals in cells and the whole body. In order to perform these highly specific functions, proteins have to adopt a well-defined, three-dimensional structure. Remarkably, in most cases they find this structure unaided once they have been formed out of their individual building blocks, amino acids, as a long chain molecule in the cell.

However, the process of protein folding can also go wrong, which means the proteins affected are no longer able to perform their function. In some cases, this can even have much more serious consequences if these misfolded proteins clump and trigger neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

In the course of evolution, a crucial factor in the development of proteins has thus been to avoid such “misfolding processes”. However, this is no easy task since the same molecular interactions that stabilize the correct structure of the individual proteins can also bring about interactions between protein molecules, causing them to misfold.

Using a special spectroscopic method called single-molecule fluorescence, researchers from the Universities of Zurich and Cambridge have now studied the circumstances under which misfolding occurs. The team headed by Prof. Benjamin Schuler from the University of Zurich studied sections, or “domains”, of the largest protein in our bodies, titin, which helps the stability and elasticity of the muscle fibers. It is assumed that individual titin domains can unfold while the muscle is heavily exerted to avoid damaging the muscle tissue. When the muscle relaxes again, however, there is a danger that these unfolded domains might fold incorrectly. There is also a similar risk for other multidomain proteins.

For their study, the researchers attached small dye molecules as probes in the protein. “Using our laser-spectroscopic method we were able to determine distances on a molecular scale, i.e. down to a few millionths of a millimeter, through the energy transfer between the probes,” explains Prof. Schuler. This enabled the structures of correctly and misfolded proteins to be distinguished and thus the proportion of misfolding determined.

“The study of different titin domains in our experiments revealed that the probability of misfolding increases if neighboring domains are very similar in the sequence of their amino acids,” says Prof. Schuler. This is apparently the reason why neighboring domains in proteins have a limited degree of similarity. “This seems to be a key evolutionary strategy to avoid protein misfolding and thus guarantee their maximum functionality,” says Schuler.

Literature:
Borgia Madeleine B., Borgia Alessandro, Best Robert B., Steward Annette, Nettels Daniel, Wunderlich Bengt, Schuler Benjamin & Clarke Jane: Single-molecule fluorescence reveals sequence-specific misfolding in multidomain proteins, in: Nature, doi:10.1038/nature10099.
Contact:
Prof. Benjamin Schuler
Institute of Biochemistry
University of Zurich
Tel.: +41 44 63 55535
E-Mail: schuler@bioc.uzh.ch
www.bioc.uzh.ch

Beat Müller | Universität Zürich
Further information:
http://www.bioc.uzh.ch
http://www.mediadesk.uzh.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New insights into the information processing of motor neurons
22.02.2017 | Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

nachricht Wintering ducks connect isolated wetlands by dispersing plant seeds
22.02.2017 | Utrecht 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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Positrons as a new tool for lithium ion battery research: Holes in the electrode

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New insights into the information processing of motor neurons

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Healthy Hiking in Smart Socks

22.02.2017 | Innovative Products

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>