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Scientist Uses Form To Explain Function Of Key Building Blocks Of Life

Date:
October 3, 2005
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
University of Wisconsin-Madison biochemists have developed an approach that allows them to measure with unprecedented accuracy the strengths of hydrogen bonds in a protein. The scientists were then able to predict the function of different versions of the protein based on structural information, a novel outcome that was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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MADISON - University of Wisconsin-Madison biochemists have developed anapproach that allows them to measure with unprecedented accuracy thestrengths of hydrogen bonds in a protein. The scientists were then ableto predict the function of different versions of the protein based onstructural information, a novel outcome that was published recently inthe Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor of biochemistry John Markley, along with a team thatincluded graduate student I-Jin Lin, studied iron-sulfur proteinscalled rubredoxins that transfer energy in the form of electronsthroughout living systems.

Rubredoxin is a key part of processes like photosynthesis and respiration, where energy is converted from one form to another.

"Variants of rubredoxin have evolved different sequences to transportelectrons in the most efficient manner possible," Markley explains."Different mechanisms have been put forward to explain this, and wewanted to understand how the proteins evolved to have differentelectron affinities."

Markley and his team used nuclear magnetic resonancespectroscopy, a technique that allowed them to observe signals fromatoms in the proteins, to determine the strength of hydrogen bonds inten different variants of the protein. From that data, the team wasable to explain changes in protein function.

"In science, you try to build theories that will explain theproperties of the systems you are looking at," explains Markley."Proteins are the basic building blocks of life, and are coded for bythe genes in DNA. We'd like to be able to start with a gene sequenceand predict the structure of a protein and its function. In this case,given an NMR pattern, we can tell you how the protein will act. Ingeneral, this method may provide information about even more complexbiological systems. This is an approach that will be important forlarger proteins."

Markley notes that an undergraduate and graduate student played keyroles in the study. Lin, who plans to complete her Ph.D. this spring,spent years tackling what Markley described as a "complex and difficultproject."

Erika Gebel, the undergraduate on the study, is now pursuing agraduate degree of her own, a pursuit that was enhanced by thisproject, says Markley.

"(Undergraduate research) enables them to understand whatresearch is and what's involved in exploring something that hasn't beenobserved before," he says.

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Funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and by thestate of Wisconsin, the study also relied upon the National MagneticResonance Facility at Madison, an NIH-funded laboratory located in thebiochemistry department. William Westler, director of the NMR facility,was a co-author on the paper.


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Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Scientist Uses Form To Explain Function Of Key Building Blocks Of Life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051001095446.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2005, October 3). Scientist Uses Form To Explain Function Of Key Building Blocks Of Life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051001095446.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Scientist Uses Form To Explain Function Of Key Building Blocks Of Life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051001095446.htm (accessed July 18, 2024).

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