Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Technology provides a deep view into protein structures

10.07.2012
Proteins usually carry out their biological function when their polypeptide chain is arranged into a stable three-dimensional structure.

The specific structure of a protein is stabilized by numerous hydrogen bonds that connect individual amino acids. Using an innovative method, namely Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy in combination with high pressure, Dr. Nisius and Prof. Grzesiek from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have provided important new insights into the hydrogen bond network of Ubiquitin and its importance for the stability of this model protein. Their findings have now been published in the renowned scientific journal Nature Chemistry.


Under pressure: scientists investigate hydrogen bonds under pressures of up to 2500 bar

Proteins consist of a sequence of amino acids and have important physiological functions, such as catalysis or transport of metabolic products. To perform their physiological role, proteins need to fold their linear amino acid chains into a stable three-dimensional structure. In part, the spatial arrangement is determined by a network of hydrogen bonds. However so far it was unclear to what extent individual hydrogen bonds contribute to the stability of a structure. Using a newly developed high pressure cell and NMR method Dr. Nisius and Prof. Grzesiek could, for the first time, completely characterize the stability of individual hydrogen bonds in the protein Ubiquitin.

Particular stability of key, long-range hydrogen bonds
The stability of a thermodynamic system, such as a protein, can be analyzed by subjecting it to variations in pressure and temperature. Using high resolution NMR methods and a newly developed pressure cell Nisius and Grzesiek have precisely analyzed the contributions of 31 backbone hydrogen bonds to the conformational stability of the model protein Ubiquitin. The pressure cell allows the observation of individual protein hydrogen bonds in the NMR instrument under pressures of up to 2500 bar. The latter is equivalent to the hydrostatic pressure of a water column of 25 km height. Hydrogen bonds spanning small sequence separations between the interacting amino acids were found to be particularly stable, whereas hydrogen bonds that span over larger sequence separations showed generally lower stability. Surprisingly, however, there are exceptions to this rule: hydrogen bonds that connect very important parts of Ubiquitin, can span over large sequence separations and be nevertheless extremely stable. In particular, such unusually stable long-range hydrogen bonds were found in the structural part where Ubiquitin attaches to target proteins. By this covalent attachment, ubiquitin labels misfolded target proteins for degradation and fulfills its function in cellular protein quality control. The specific stabilization of hydrogen bonds at this site is therefore very important to preserve the structural integrity of Ubiquitin during function and to achieve stability for the entire protein.
Future oriented technology: High pressure-NMR
By the high pressure NMR characterization, Nisius and Grzesiek could identify the structural parts of Ubiquitin that are responsible for its unusually high thermodynamic stability. Their study is a further example of the multifaceted and growing range of NMR applications. The technology not only provides information on the three-dimensional structure of biomolecules, but also on their thermodynamic and kinetic characteristics, and thus is a crucial tool to understand biomolecular function at atomic resolution.
Original Article:
Lydia Nisius and Stephan Grzesiek (2012). Key stabilizing elements of protein structure identified through pressure and temperature perturbation of its hydrogen bond network. Nature Chemistry, Published online 8. July, 2012.
Further Information:
Prof. Dr. Stephan Grzesiek, Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Structural Biology & Biophysics, Klingelbergstrasse 50/70, 4056 Basel, Tel: +41 61 267 21 00, E-Mail: stephan.grzesiek@unibas.ch

Dr. Thomas Schnyder | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>