Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein transformation gives new twist to medical research

07.01.2005


Discovery in Texas has medical implications

It was a transforming moment. Researchers could barely believe their eyes. A molecular blob of a protein reshaped itself into a molecular Pacman in order to free new viruses from the inside of a bacterial cell. It’s the sort of thing where your graduate student tells you the results of an experiment and you say, ’You must have made a mistake,’ said Dr. Ryland Young, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station biochemist. But then, a good scientist has to be prepared at any time for the old rule to be disproved, he added.

And that’s what happens today when Science magazine reports on the protein Lyz found to be capable of turning itself into a completely different structure – a discovery made by Young’s graduate student Min Xu and a team of researchers.



Understanding Lyz could enable medical researchers to design drugs to turn off or on proteins at the cellular level, which could lead to treatment for some of the most difficult to cure diseases such as cancer and HIV.

Lyz is a lysozyme, a protein that degrades the tough cell wall that covers bacterial cells. The name lysozyme means break-out enzyme as coined by Alexander Fleming, who was also the inventor of penicillin. Lysozymes are everywhere, Young noted. They are even in your tears, where they destroy bacteria that try to enter the eye.

But Lyz is made by a virus growing inside the bacterial cell. The virus has to destroy the cell wall, or the virus babies would be trapped inside the dead body of the bacterium. Originally, the group set out to study how the Lyz protein gets outside the cell to break down the cell wall. They were looking for a holin, a protein that makes holes in the cell membrane to let the lysozyme out.

"Using biochemistry and genetics, Min and Doug (Struck, a research assistant) found something completely unexpected," Young said. Lyz was able to get out of the membrane by presenting a part of the protein as a signal, or tether attached to the membrane. Once outside, Lyz completely changes its shape, withdrawing the signal from the membrane and turning into a jaw-like molecule that almost literally chews up the cell wall, thus allowing release of its progeny.

It’s like one of those transformer toys that you twist and they become something quite different from the original in shape and form, noted Sacchettini, whose group worked out the detailed molecular structure of Lyz before and after its shape-shifting. It’s fascinating to know now that the same protein can exist in vastly different states. It’s an academic exercise from which a lot of other interesting work and developments may derive.

Also working with Xu, Young, Sacchettini and Struck on the project were: Dr. Sam Arulandu, a post doctoral researcher, and undergraduate student Stephanie Swanson, a senior from Houston.

Kathleen Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>