Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Virtual Reality Gives Insight on Protein Structures

16.07.2010
To understand a protein, it helps to get inside of it, and a University of Arkansas professor has figured out a way to do so.

James F. Hinton, University Professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has worked with Virtalis, an advanced visualization company, to create a computer software program and projection system that lets a person look at larger-than-life, 3-D structures of proteins in virtual reality. This allows scientists to walk inside, through or around the protein of interest for investigating its structure and function.

“Proteins are very complex molecular structures,” said Hinton. Proteins are built from amino acids, molecules that share certain characteristics and have unique side chains. Yeast proteins can have 466 amino acids, while the larger proteins have almost 27,000 amino acids. These amino acids interact to form a particular structure for each protein, and this structure helps to determine the function of the protein.

Since proteins underlie most human diseases, they interest researchers studying the underlying mechanisms of disease. The flu virus, for instance, harbors proteins that cause the illness experienced by humans. The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus produces a toxic protein that causes many of the symptoms experienced by the body. Figuring out how to neutralize these proteins could help treat or prevent disease.

Scientists find that examining protein interactions in two dimensions ranges from tedious to impossible because of the proteins’ size and complexity. Hinton worked with the advanced visualization company Virtalis to develop the ActiveMove Virtual Reality system for PyMOL, a three-dimensional molecular viewing program. The Virtalis system allows researchers to enlarge the protein to room-size and examine it from all sides, including the inside, which can be crucial for understanding the relationship between structure and function.

“Using this system, we can answer many questions about interactions. Why does a toxic protein do what it does? Does the protein form a channel? If it does, what does it look like? And how can we block it?” Hinton said. “This system can act as a guide for what to do next.”

Many proteins, such as a mushroom-shaped toxin from Staphylococcus aureus, form channels to perform their functions and carry out their interactions through binding to other proteins. By virtually exploring the proteins, scientists can determine what kinds of interactions might block the toxic functions of such a protein, or make virtual modifications to the proteins themselves to see if the modifications render them unable to interact and bind to other proteins.

“Thanks to the National Institutes of Health, which has funded the University’s Center for Protein Structure and Function for many years, we have superb instrumentation,” Hinton said. “The immersive Virtual Reality System provides us with another way of enhancing the data we get from those instruments.”

The ActiveMove system includes a 3-D projector with a rear projections screen, coupled with a personal computer, eyewear, head and hand tracking and Virtalis software and support. Funds from the Arkansas Biosciences Institute were used to purchase the Virtalis Virtual Reality System.

CONTACTS:
James F. Hinton, University Professor, chemistry and biochemistry
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-5143, jhinton@uark.edu
Melissa Lutz Blouin, director of science and research communications
University Relations
479-575-5555, blouin@uark.edu

Melissa Lutz Blouin | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'
21.08.2018 | University of Rochester

nachricht Protein interaction helps Yersinia cause disease
21.08.2018 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>