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 Electronic evidence of non-Fermi liquid behaviors in an iron-based superconductor
11.12.2018 | Science China Press

nachricht Physicists edge closer to controlling chemical reactions
11.12.2018 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

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: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Innovative Infrared heat reduces energy consumption in coating packaging for food

12.12.2018 | Trade Fair News

New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

12.12.2018 | Information Technology

Obtaining polyester from plant oil

12.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>