Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New protein fold with a transport tunnel discovered

Date:
October 28, 2013
Source:
Universitaet Bielefeld
Summary:
The protein LIMP-2 is vital for both humans and animals. If it is absent – due, for example, to a hereditary disease – substances of an unknown nature, probably lipids, accumulate in the organism. Up to now, scientists were unsure what the protein looks like and how exactly it functions.

The Bielefeld chemist Michael Schwake and his colleagues have discovered a new protein fold. At its head (the red helices), this protein can bind enzymes and viruses. The tunnel in the protein structure is colored yellow.
Credit: Illustration: Nature

The protein LIMP-2 is vital for both humans and animals. If it is absent -- due, for example, to a hereditary disease -- substances of an unknown nature, probably lipids, accumulate in the organism. Up to now, scientists were unsure what the protein looks like and how exactly it functions. Privatdozent [senior lecturer] Dr. Michael Schwake from the Faculty of Chemistry at Bielefeld University (Germany) is doing research on the protein -- and thereby preparing the way for future therapies. Together with colleagues in Kiel, Toronto, and Boston, he has now discovered that the protein LIMP 2 possesses a novel protein fold together with a nanomicroscopically small transport tunnel.

Related Articles


researchers have published their findings on Sunday (27 October) in the journal Nature.

Proteins are composed of amino acids. Although these are lined up as if along a string, they produce a twisted three-dimensional structure of helices and sheets. It is only this pleating that enables them to influence biological cells. 'We are decoding the structure and function of proteins in order to find out how biochemical processes within them take place,' says Schwake.

To study LIMP-2, Schwake's colleagues from the Canadian University of Toronto have crystallized the protein. Then they can use X-ray diffraction analysis to ascertain its crystalline structure. 'When analysing the images, we detected a protein fold that has not been described in any other protein up to now,' says Schwake.

LIMP-2 is present in every cell of the human body. It is found mostly in the lysosomes of the cells where it ensures that a specific enzyme reaches them. Lysosomes are the 'stomachs' of the cells and they break down harmful and unusable substances. A specific enzyme called beta-glucocerebrosidase is responsible for breaking down lipids. If this enzyme is defect or does not reach the lysosomes, these lipids will accumulate. Biochemists suspect that this is what causes Gaucher's disease that leads to an enlarged liver and spleen.

Schwake's studies confirm how LIMP-2 transports this enzyme. The protein has a 'head' consisting of several helices on which the enzyme docks. 'We also managed to show that the protein is equipped with a tunnel through which it transports substances through membranes,' Schwake reports. The biochemists have determined that it is highly probable that this channel is used to transport lipids away from the lysosome. 'We determined that by comparing the structure of LIMP-2 with that of related proteins,' says Schwake. Two of these proteins are known to bind and transport lipids. The comparison suggests that LIMP-2 must possess the same ability.

As a biochemist, it is not Schwake's job to develop a therapy -- his interest is in basic research, that is, in finding out how the proteins work in the cells. 'Our findings could be used to develop substances to cure diseases,' he explains. 'Through our research, we now how ligands bind to the head and lipids are transported through the tunnel. One way to prevent this would be to deliberately disrupt the binding at these locations,' says Schwake.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Dante Neculai, Michael Schwake, Mani Ravichandran, Friederike Zunke, Richard F. Collins, Judith Peters, Mirela Neculai, Jonathan Plumb, Peter Loppnau, Juan Carlos Pizarro, Alma Seitova, William S. Trimble, Paul Saftig, Sergio Grinstein, Sirano Dhe-Paganon. Structure of LIMP-2 provides functional insights with implications for SR-BI and CD36. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12684

Cite This Page:

Universitaet Bielefeld. "New protein fold with a transport tunnel discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028090459.htm>.
Universitaet Bielefeld. (2013, October 28). New protein fold with a transport tunnel discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028090459.htm
Universitaet Bielefeld. "New protein fold with a transport tunnel discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028090459.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 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