New methodology for the analysis of proteins

Apr 05, 2013
New methodology for the analysis of proteins
The enrichment of urea (in purple) around the protein favours its unfolding. Credit: M Candotti, IRB Barcelona

A study led by the professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Faculty of Chemistry of the UB Modesto Orozco, and by Xavier Salvatella, from the Department of Biochemistry, both ICREA scientists at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), has devised a new strategy to study the shape of proteins.

According to Orozco, "by combining computational modeling and experimental physicochemical techniques, we have revealed the , which, until now, were unachievable because of technical barriers". Results have been published on the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The research, carried out within the joint programme IRB Barcelona - Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) —centres located at the BKC—, represents an advance in research. Michela Candotti, the first author of of the paper, states that "to know the shape that proteins have is essential to perform any analysis. A wire can be a paperclip, a staple or a spring, depending how it is folded". This remark is especially relevant given the multi-functional nature of many proteins.

In the study researchers have been able to describe the chemical mechanisms by which compounds such as urea unfold proteins. "This was a debate that started in the 60s and now, with this work, it can be considered closed", explains Orozco. Furthermore, they have established a new strategy that will allow them to decipher the conformation of the Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDP). IDPs are a group of proteins without a rigid structure that comprise a large part of the ; however, little is known about them. "Our results will contribute to research into diseases that involve IDPs, such as cancer, Parkinson's or Alzheimer", affirms Salvatella. Finally, scientists have identified the first steps in protein folding, another aspect which is discussed at great lenght.

Explore further: New lab technique reveals structure and function of proteins critical in DNA repair

More information: Candotti, M. et al. Towards an atomistic description of the urea-denatured state of proteins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), (early edition) 25th March 2013. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1216589110

Related Stories

First description of a triple DNA helix in a vacuum

Apr 18, 2012

A team of researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) have managed for the first time to extract trustworthy structural information ...

First-ever high-resolution observations of DNA unfolding

May 20, 2010

The scientists Modesto Orozco, group leader of the Molecular Modelling and Bioinformatics Group at IRB Barcelona, Full Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Barcelona and director ...

Recommended for you

The mechanics of life

Apr 16, 2015

An interdisciplinary research team formed by Otger Campàs, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and colleague Jérome Gros, ...

New transitional stem cells discovered

Apr 16, 2015

Pre-eclampsia is a disease that affects 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies in America. Complications from this disease can lead to emergency cesarean sections early in pregnancies to save the lives of the infants and mothers. ...

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.