Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Discovery Alters Longstanding Concept Of Fixed Protein Structure

Date:
March 20, 2008
Source:
Medical College of Wisconsin
Summary:
The thousands of proteins found in nature are simply strings of amino acids, assembled by genes, and scientists have long believed that they automatically fold themselves into uniquely fixed, 3-dimensional shapes to fire the engine of life. In the era of genetic research, identifying those shapes and their functions has become a worldwide focus of biomedical science.

The thousands of proteins found in nature are simply strings of amino acids, assembled by genes, and scientists have long believed that they automatically fold themselves into uniquely fixed, 3-dimensional shapes to fire the engine of life. In the era of genetic research, identifying those shapes and their functions has become a worldwide focus of biomedical science.

Related Articles


Now, researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee have found that a protein, lymphotactin, which plays a vital role in the body's immune response, can rapidly shift its shape --up to ten times a second-- between two totally unrelated structures, each with a unique role in defending the body.

Their discovery, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, March 17, alters a fundamental concept of biochemistry established in the 1960s. It may also inspire the search for other proteins with the ability to change form, and help address diseases of misfolded proteins such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, mad cow disease and many cancers.

"While our discovery raises more questions on the protein folding enigma, we hope it generates intensified research to learn the complex processes of these devastating diseases," says team leader Brian Volkman, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry.

Dr. Volkman's team is using highly sensitive nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to solve three-dimensional protein structures. NMR provides information on the number and type of chemical entities in a molecule, and can measure distances between pairs of atoms within the molecule to produce a computer-generated 3-D model of its structure.

They discovered that human lymphotactin, a regulatory protein released by the immune system to attract and activate white blood cells, exists naturally in two distinct structures, and that the newly-identified form has no similarity to any other known protein. They also learned that each form has a unique role, one attaching to the interior wall of the blood vessel, and the other reaching out to grab white blood cells. This means that converting from one lymphotactin structure to the other is likely essential for its activation, according to Dr. Volkman.

"Proteins often have multiple functional states that are closely related to a single structure" he says. "In its natural state however, we found that lymphotactin adopts two equally-populated but unrelated structures that rapidly change from one to the other."

Robyn Tuinstra, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Volkman's laboratory, was lead author of the paper. Francis Peterson, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry was a vital co-investigator.

Dr. Volkman's lymphotactin research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1999 and by an interdisciplinary research grant from the Medical College Cancer Center since 2003


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Medical College of Wisconsin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Medical College of Wisconsin. "New Discovery Alters Longstanding Concept Of Fixed Protein Structure." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317171024.htm>.
Medical College of Wisconsin. (2008, March 20). New Discovery Alters Longstanding Concept Of Fixed Protein Structure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317171024.htm
Medical College of Wisconsin. "New Discovery Alters Longstanding Concept Of Fixed Protein Structure." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317171024.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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