Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCSB physicist devises way to observe protein folding

09.10.2003


Physicists are getting more involved in the fight against diseases by studying the folding of proteins, which they hope will eventually lead to the development of new drugs. Illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and even some cancers are the result of protein folding that has gone awry. Since proteins in the body perform different functions according to their shape, the folding process is considered a very important area of study.



Everett Lipman, a new assistant professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently co-authored an article in the journal Science, describing an innovative study of how to "see" proteins as they fold, the result of experiments performed with co-workers at the National Institutes of Health.

The machinery of life arises from interactions between protein molecules, whose functions depend on the three-dimensional shapes into which they fold, said Lipman. Although proteins are composed of just 20 different building blocks (the amino acids), the process by which a given sequence of these components adopts its unique structure is complex and poorly understood. Folding proteins are too small to view with a microscope, so the researchers used a method called Forster Resonance Energy Transfer, or FRET, to study them. Using a microfabricated silicon device and a microfluidic mixing technique, they were able to observe single protein molecules at various times after folding was triggered.


Two small molecules of fluorescent dye (red and green) were applied to amino acids in the protein. When the green dye was excited by a laser, it either emitted green light or transferred the energy to the red dye, causing it to light up. The green dye is a photon donor and the red dye is a photon acceptor. If the two dyes are close together, more red is emitted as the energy is transferred easily to the red. If they are far apart, more green light is emitted. The fraction of red counts shows how efficient the energy transfer is, which shows how close the ends of the molecule are to each other. By taking a sequence of measurements as the protein folds up, scientists can get a "picture" of the folding.

The group was the first to perform these single molecule measurements in microfluidic mixtures. "Once we have more understanding of the folding process, it will fill in a huge gap in our knowledge of how biological systems work," said Lipman. "However it will be a long time before this knowledge can be applied."

Lipman explained, "The fantastic advances in biology during the last century have brought us to the point where we have working knowledge of many fundamental processes. There remain, however, numerous details and enormous complexity of function and interaction that we have yet to comprehend. It has been the case in the past that the most precise information about biomolecular machinery has been uncovered using techniques of experimental physics, such as magnetic resonance and x-ray crystallography. As we progress toward understanding proteins and nucleic acids as complex physical systems, this will no doubt remain true."

Gail Gallessich | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsb.edu/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

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...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

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”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

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...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>