Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Virtual Reality Gives Insight on Protein Structures

16.07.2010
To understand a protein, it helps to get inside of it, and a University of Arkansas professor has figured out a way to do so.

James F. Hinton, University Professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has worked with Virtalis, an advanced visualization company, to create a computer software program and projection system that lets a person look at larger-than-life, 3-D structures of proteins in virtual reality. This allows scientists to walk inside, through or around the protein of interest for investigating its structure and function.

“Proteins are very complex molecular structures,” said Hinton. Proteins are built from amino acids, molecules that share certain characteristics and have unique side chains. Yeast proteins can have 466 amino acids, while the larger proteins have almost 27,000 amino acids. These amino acids interact to form a particular structure for each protein, and this structure helps to determine the function of the protein.

Since proteins underlie most human diseases, they interest researchers studying the underlying mechanisms of disease. The flu virus, for instance, harbors proteins that cause the illness experienced by humans. The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus produces a toxic protein that causes many of the symptoms experienced by the body. Figuring out how to neutralize these proteins could help treat or prevent disease.

Scientists find that examining protein interactions in two dimensions ranges from tedious to impossible because of the proteins’ size and complexity. Hinton worked with the advanced visualization company Virtalis to develop the ActiveMove Virtual Reality system for PyMOL, a three-dimensional molecular viewing program. The Virtalis system allows researchers to enlarge the protein to room-size and examine it from all sides, including the inside, which can be crucial for understanding the relationship between structure and function.

“Using this system, we can answer many questions about interactions. Why does a toxic protein do what it does? Does the protein form a channel? If it does, what does it look like? And how can we block it?” Hinton said. “This system can act as a guide for what to do next.”

Many proteins, such as a mushroom-shaped toxin from Staphylococcus aureus, form channels to perform their functions and carry out their interactions through binding to other proteins. By virtually exploring the proteins, scientists can determine what kinds of interactions might block the toxic functions of such a protein, or make virtual modifications to the proteins themselves to see if the modifications render them unable to interact and bind to other proteins.

“Thanks to the National Institutes of Health, which has funded the University’s Center for Protein Structure and Function for many years, we have superb instrumentation,” Hinton said. “The immersive Virtual Reality System provides us with another way of enhancing the data we get from those instruments.”

The ActiveMove system includes a 3-D projector with a rear projections screen, coupled with a personal computer, eyewear, head and hand tracking and Virtalis software and support. Funds from the Arkansas Biosciences Institute were used to purchase the Virtalis Virtual Reality System.

CONTACTS:
James F. Hinton, University Professor, chemistry and biochemistry
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-5143, jhinton@uark.edu
Melissa Lutz Blouin, director of science and research communications
University Relations
479-575-5555, blouin@uark.edu

Melissa Lutz Blouin | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>