Milestone discovery of the 3-D structure and function of vinculin explains how this protein changes its shape to perform different functions in health and disease
The discovery of how a protein called vinculin undergoes exquisitely precise changes in its shape is helping to answer some major questions about the life of cells, the development of tissues and organs and the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. These findings, to be published in the Jan. 8, 2004, issue of Nature, were made by scientists at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital.
The newly recognized way that this protein can change its shape is important because slight changes in the shape of vinculin completely change its role in the cell, making the protein a versatile tool for completing different tasks. For example, by alternately changing its shape from active to inactive forms, vinculin can control the cells ability to remain stationary or move through its environment.
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