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 Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate 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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>