Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nature Could Have Used Different Protein Building Blocks, Chemists Show

Date:
February 6, 2007
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Chemists at Yale have done what Mother Nature chose not to -- make a protein-like molecule out of non-natural building blocks, according to a report featured early online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The scientists now report evidence that nature could have used different building blocks -- beta-amino acids -- and show that peptides assembled from beta-amino acids can fold into structures much like natural protein.

Beta-Bundles: Ribbon diagram representations of a beta-peptide bundle illustrating packing between helices and within the hydrophobic (green) core.
Credit: Schepartz/Yale

Chemists at Yale have done what Mother Nature chose not to -- make a protein-like molecule out of non-natural building blocks, according to a report featured early online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Nature uses alpha-amino acid building blocks to assemble the proteins that make life as we know it possible. Chemists at Yale now report evidence that nature could have used a different building block -- beta-amino acids -- and show that peptides assembled from beta-amino acids can fold into structures much like natural protein.

"The x-ray structure featured in the report shows a molecule that shares many of the structural characteristics of natural proteins," said principal author Alanna Schepartz, the Milton Harris '29 Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry at Yale and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. "Related studies show that the physical properties of the molecule are also remarkably similar to natural proteins. In other words, the beta-peptide assembly looks and acts a lot like a real protein."

The ability to mimic natural proteins makes beta-peptides powerful new tools for basic research and drug discovery. Like a taped recording, their greatest value may be in their difference from a live performance.

"Since beta-peptides are not processed in the cell like natural peptides or proteins, it may be possible in the future to design beta-peptides that perform better or in more locations than current protein drugs," said Schepartz. "They also may have unique properties as biomaterials."

Natural proteins are composed of linear chains of alpha-amino acids. Beta-peptides are composed of beta-amino acids, which have an extra carbon in their backbone. Like alpha-amino acids, beta-amino acids are generated under simulated pre-biotic conditions, are isolated from meteorites, and are byproducts of metabolism, but they are not genetically encoded like natural proteins, nor are they built into chains by cells.

Since the early 1990's, scientists have been able to assemble beta-peptides into isolated helices. Until now, however, creating a structure that mimics the larger size and complex folded architecture of a natural protein had been an elusive goal. Schepartz's team solved the dilemma by designing a molecule that could form a bundle using characteristics found in natural proteins -- a greasy interior that repels water and a water-friendly exterior. This paper, which provides the first high-resolution picture of such a structure, shows a bundle of eight beta-peptides.

"The structure we see is intriguing, as it suggests that natural proteins could have been composed of beta-amino acids, but were not chosen to do so," said Schepartz.

Co-authors on the paper are post-doctoral fellows Douglas S. Daniels and E. James Petersson, and graduate student Jade X. Qiu. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Foundation for Cancer Research and the Yale Center for Structural Biology.

Citation: J. American Chemical Society, ASAP Article DOI:10.1021/ja068678n (January 19, 2007)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Nature Could Have Used Different Protein Building Blocks, Chemists Show." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070205231608.htm>.
Yale University. (2007, February 6). Nature Could Have Used Different Protein Building Blocks, Chemists Show. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070205231608.htm
Yale University. "Nature Could Have Used Different Protein Building Blocks, Chemists Show." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070205231608.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins