Tiny tweezers and their big influence on bustling proteins: Scientists investigate molecular 'clothespins'

Feb 26, 2013
Tiny tweezers and their big influence on bustling proteins: Scientists investigate molecular 'clothespins'

(Phys.org)—Tiny molecular tweezers have a remarkable impact on bustling proteins: Three research groups from the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), the Chemical Genomics Centre of the Max Planck Society in Dortmund and the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim found that the molecular tweezers designed by Professor Frank Klärner at the UDE can be used to regulate protein - protein interactions by selectively trapping certain residues of the protein – and stick like a clothespin. The research groups of Thomas Schrader (UDE), Christian Ottmann (Chemical Genomics Centre) and Elsa Sanchez Garcia (MPI für Kohlenforschung) believe that this might be a promising approach for applications in medical research, as the water soluble tweezers act without inducing toxicity or explicit side effects.

The scientists have tested their small tweezers on proteins that have influence on many processes in the human body. "We also wanted to know how they work", says Dr. Elsa Sanchez Garcia, leader of a Max Planck research group at the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung. The chemists have found out that although their tweezers prefer to bind at the amino acid lysine, the protein surrounding of the lysine influences the trapping of the tweezers. Thus, with Dr. Sanchez Garcia and her colleague Kenny Bravo Rodriguez have shown which type of lysine the tweezers prefer – and why that is the case. Their work also allowed to lay down rules for predicting the behavior of the tweezers in the presence of proteins with several lysine residues.

Although the tweezers research is at early stages, their potentiality makes it worth for to have a closer look at these results. The 14-3-3 adapter proteins (14-3-3) that the scientists used for their experiments are small recognition proteins that influence many by binding their targets via short and modulating their function. For instance, they are able to stabilize certain tumor suppressors. Because of their important role in many biological processes, 14-3-3 proteins are prospective therapeutic targets against severe disorders, such as cancer.

The three research groups published their findings in the Nature Chemistry magazine.

Explore further: Expanding the code of life with new 'letters'

More information: www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v5/n3/full/nchem.1570.html

Related Stories

Bionanomachines: Proteins as resistance fighters

Aug 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Friction limits the speed and efficiency of macroscopic engines. Is this also true for nanomachines? A Dresden research team used laser tweezers to measure the friction between a single motor ...

Parkinson's disease stopped in animal model

Mar 02, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Millions of people suffer from Parkinson's disease, a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement and worsens over time. As the world's population ages, it's estimated that the number of people ...

Core tenets of the 'histone code' are universal

Sep 06, 2007

In one of biology’s most impressive engineering feats, specialized proteins called histones package some six-and-a-half feet of human DNA into a nucleus that averages just five microns in diameter.

Recommended for you

Expanding the code of life with new 'letters'

1 hour ago

The DNA encoding all life on Earth is made of four building blocks called nucleotides, commonly known as "letters," that line up in pairs and twist into a double helix. Now, two groups of scientists are reporting ...

Researchers find 'decoder ring' powers in micro RNA

May 26, 2015

MicroRNA can serve as a "decoder ring" for understanding complex biological processes, a team of New York University chemists has found. Their study, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, points ...

DNA mutations get harder to hide

May 26, 2015

Rice University researchers have developed a method to detect rare DNA mutations with an approach hundreds of times more powerful than current methods.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.