Cornell University researchers have discovered the 3-D crystal structure of a protein, human CD38, which may lead to important discoveries about how cells release calcium -- a mineral used in almost every cellular process. The findings also may offer insights into mechanisms involved in certain diseases, ranging from leukemia to diabetes and HIV-AIDS.
Qun Liu and Quan Hao. Copyright Elsevier Ltd.
This artistic rendering of the molecular structure of human CD38 appears on the cover of this months issue of the journal Structure. Copyright © Cornell University
Levels of the protein climb, for reasons unknown, when people fall ill, making human CD38 a marker for these diseases.
As one example, researchers have shown that CD38 interrupts an interaction between the AIDS virus and its point of entry into cells -- a protein receptor called CD4. By looking at CD38s 3-D structure, the Cornell researchers identified a peptide, an organic compound composed of amino acids, that they believe may play a role in interrupting the interface between CD4 and HIV-AIDS.
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