Illinois Institute of Technology biologist Joseph Orgel used the high-energy X-rays produced by the APS to examine the structure of collagen, a protein that composes more than a quarter of all protein in the human body and forms the principal component of skin, teeth, ligaments, the heart, blood vessels, bones and cartilage. In these tissues, collagen molecules pack themselves into overlapping bundles called fibrils. These fibrils, which each contain billions of atoms, entwine themselves into collagen fibers that are visible to the naked eye.
Scientists have known the basic molecular structure of collagen since the 1950s, when several different international groups of scientists discovered that it had a triple-stranded helical structure. However, researches had never before had the ability to study the structure of an entire fibril in the same way that they could study an individual collagen molecule, according to Orgel.
Orgel and his team performed diffraction studies on intact collagen fibrils inside the tendons of rat tails in order to understand just how the protein functioned within unbroken tissue. "We tried to draw a highly accurate map of the molecular structure of tissues," Orgel said. "By doing so, we hope to transform a very basic understanding that we have of the molecular structure of tissue into a much more tangible form."
Since the scientists kept the tendon tissue intact, they could see how the collagen molecule binds to collagenases, a class of enzymes which when working properly help to regulate the normal growth and development of animals but when malfunctioning can lead to the metastasis of cancerous tumors or rheumatoid arthritis. The visualization of this interaction could help drug developers to create an inhibitor to prevent the pathological action of the enzyme, Orgel said.
Previous studies of the structure of collagen had looked only at crystals of small fragments of the protein, so scientists had little idea of how it looked within intact tissue. "It's impossible to get the information that we did by removing tiny chunks of the tissue," Orgel said. "We couldn't obtain this data by single-crystal crystallography. This research was made possible only because of the BioCAT beamline provided by the APS."
The research appears in the February 26 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and is available online at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/0710588105v1.
Argonne National Laboratory brings the world's brightest scientists and engineers together to find exciting and creative new solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America 's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
By Jared Sagoff.
Steve McGregor | EurekAlert!
From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.
On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...
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”...
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...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences
27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research
27.02.2017 | Life Sciences