Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemists concoct new agents to easily study critical cell proteins

Date:
October 31, 2010
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Scientists have devised a technology to more easily obtain membrane proteins for study.

They are the portals to the cell, gateways through which critical signals and chemicals are exchanged between living cells and their environments.

But these gateways -- proteins that span the cell membrane and connect the world outside the cell to its vital inner workings -- remain, for the most part, black boxes with little known about their structures and how they work. They are of intense interest to scientists as they are the targets on which many drugs act, but are notoriously difficult to study because extracting these proteins intact from cell membranes is tricky.

Now, however, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Stanford University has devised a technology to more easily obtain membrane proteins for study. Writing the week of Oct. 31 in the journal Nature Methods, the group reports the development of a class of agents capable of extracting complex membrane proteins without distorting their shape, a key to understanding how they work.

"The proteins are embedded in the membrane to control what gets into the cell and what gets out," explains Samuel Gellman, a UW-Madison professor of chemistry and a senior author of the paper along with Brian Kobilka of Stanford and Bernadette Byrne of Imperial College London. "If we want to understand life at the molecular level, we need to understand the properties and functions of these membrane proteins."

The catch with membrane proteins and unleashing their potential, however, is getting insight into their physical properties, says Gellman.

Like other kinds of proteins, membrane proteins exhibit a complex pattern of folding, and determining the three-dimensional shapes they assume in the membrane provides essential insight into how they do business.

Proteins are workhorse molecules in any organism, and myriad proteins are known. Structures have been solved for many thousands of so-called "soluble" proteins, but only a couple of hundred membrane protein structures are known, Gellman notes. This contrast is important because roughly one-third of the proteins encoded in the human genome appear to be membrane proteins.

To effectively study a protein, scientists must have access to it. A primary obstacle has been simply getting proteins out of the membrane while maintaining their functional shapes. To that end, Gellman's group has developed a family of new chemical agents, known as amphiphiles, that are easily prepared, customizable to specific proteins and cheap.

"These amphiphiles are very simple," says Gellman. "That's one of their charms. The other is that they can be tuned to pull out many different kinds of proteins."

The hope, according to Gellman, is that the new technology will facilitate research at the biomedical frontier.

The development of the amphiphiles was conducted in close collaboration with groups like Kobilka's, which specializes in techniques that help resolve the three-dimensional structures of proteins found in cell membranes.

The lead author of the new study is Pil Seok Chae, a postdoctoral fellow in Gellman's lab. The work was supported primarily by the U.S National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Chemists concoct new agents to easily study critical cell proteins." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101031154013.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2010, October 31). Chemists concoct new agents to easily study critical cell proteins. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101031154013.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Chemists concoct new agents to easily study critical cell proteins." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101031154013.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
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