Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

’Knot’ to be undone, researchers discover unusual protein structure

27.11.2002


Researchers funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences have determined the structure of a protein with a surprising feature in it: a knot. This is the first time a knot has been found in a protein from the most ancient type of single-celled organism, an archaebacterium, and one of only a few times a knot has been seen in any protein structure.



This very unusual protein shape finding is a result from the NIGMS Protein Structure Initiative, a 10-year effort to determine 10,000 unique protein structures using fast, highly automated methods. NIGMS, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health, provides $50 million per year to nine PSI research centers. The protein knot structure was solved at one of the PSI centers, the Midwest Center for Structural Genomics, which is directed by Andrzej Joachimiak, Ph.D., of Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago.

The researchers describe the new protein structure in the journal Proteins. Their article will be published online Nov. 27 and in print in early December.


"It’s a surprising and different structure," said NIGMS’ John Norvell, Ph.D., director of the Protein Structure Initiative. Protein folding theory previously held that forming a knot was beyond the ability of a protein. Joachimiak suggests that the newly discovered knot may stabilize the amino acid subunits of the protein.

Such discoveries are just what the PSI aims for. "The PSI approach is to solve thousands of unique protein structures," said Norvell. "It’s a discovery-driven effort, a voyage into the unknown. We aren’t sure what we’ll find, but we expect to map a great diversity of protein structures."

"This makes us want to find out why nature goes to the trouble of creating a knot instead of a more typical fold," said Joachimiak.

One of the main goals of the PSI is to understand all of the possible shapes of proteins in nature. Scientists hope that understanding the full range of protein shapes will shed light on the mysterious process proteins use to fold into a three-dimensional structure from a linear chain of amino acid subunits. Ideally, scientists would like to be able to predict the shape of a protein from the sequence of the gene that codes for it. This ability could be immensely useful in understanding diseases and developing new drugs because a protein’s shape offers big clues to its function and can point to ways of controlling that function.

The "high-throughput" PSI approach is radically different from how scientists have approached protein structure determination in the past. Until recently, scientists focused on solving the structures of proteins with known functions.

The newly discovered knotted protein comes from a microorganism called Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum. This organism is of interest to industry for its ability to break down waste products and produce methane gas. Scientists know which gene codes for the 268-amino acid protein, but they do not know the protein’s function. They speculate that it binds to RNA, a chemical cousin of the genetic material DNA, and helps process this molecule.

The PSI, currently in its pilot phase, expects to move into production phase by the end of 2005. By the end of the pilot phase, each center will aim to produce 100 to 200 new protein structures per year, adding greatly to the number of known structures. The PSI also expects to dramatically lower the average cost of solving a structure.

The paper describing the new structure was authored by scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Toronto. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts basic and applied scientific research across a wide spectrum of disciplines, ranging from high-energy physics to climatology and biotechnology. The laboratory is operated by the University of Chicago as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory system.


NIGMS supports basic biomedical research and training nationwide. NIGMS-funded studies lay the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. To learn more, visit the NIGMS Web site at www.nigms.nih.gov.

For information about the protein knot, contact Linda Joy in the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301 to speak with PSI director John Norvell, Ph.D, or Catherine Foster of Argonne National Laboratory at 630-252-5580 to speak with Andrzej Joachimiak, Ph.D.

REFERENCE

Zarembinski TI, Kim Y, Peterson K, Christendat D, Kharamsi A, Arrowsmith CH, Edwards AM, Joachimiak A. Deep trefoil knot implicated in RNA binding found in an archaebacterial protein. Proteins 2002; 50: 177-183.


Linda Joy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nih.gov/nigms

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young
22.11.2017 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
21.11.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water cooling for the Earth's crust

23.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nano-watch has steady hands

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Batteries with better performance and improved safety

23.11.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>