Chemists get step closer to replicating nature with assembly of new 3-D structures

August 23, 2017, New York University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of New York University chemists has created a series of three-dimensional structures that take a step closer to resembling those found in nature. The work offers insights into how enzymes are properly assembled, or folded, which could enhance our understanding of a range of diseases that result from these misfolded proteins.

"Our methodology not only creates that spur the creation of configurations similar to those in the natural world, but also promotes further assembly into more complex and compartmentalized systems," explains Marcus Weck, a professor in NYU's Department of Chemistry and the senior author of the paper, which appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. "These creations yield new knowledge of the folding process in nature as well as synthetic systems and, with it, the possibility to investigate misfolding, which is critical for a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and cystic fibrosis."

Currently, the engineering of well-defined structures similar to those found in nature is beyond the reach of chemists. Primarily, this is because the orchestration of structures of enzymes, proteins, and DNA is a remarkably complex undertaking, which includes an array of cooperative processes across multiple domains.

To get closer to mimicking natural materials, the NYU researchers devised a means in which simple building blocks, or monomers, form more complex polymers that can fold into secondary structures such as helices, sheets, or random coils that are capable of further assembly into higher order , often referred to as a tertiary structure in proteins.

"Our strategy takes these elements and engineers 3D architectures from well-defined secondary structures containing building blocks," notes Weck.

"While much work is dedicated to the engineering of bio-inspired synthetic folding systems that feature individual helical and sheet-like segments, our structures achieve design complexity while still maintaining simplistic routes to analyze assembled structures," he adds.

Explore further: Chemists color world of 3-D crystals with advances in self-assembly

Related Stories

Researchers study synthetic protein cages

August 7, 2017

A multidisciplinary team of mathematicians, theoretical physicists, chemists and biochemists from the University of Bristol came together to study the self-assembly of protein building into protein cages with possible applications ...

Recommended for you

Lipid droplets play crucial roles beyond fat storage

August 14, 2018

Lipid droplets: they were long thought of merely as the formless blobs of fat out of which spare tires and muffin tops were made. But these days, they're "a really hot area of research," says Michael Welte, professor and ...

Bacteria-fighting polymers created with light

August 14, 2018

Hundreds of polymers that could kill drug-resistant superbugs in novel ways can be produced and tested with light, using a method developed at the University of Warwick. The new methodology may identify antimicrobials for ...

Transforming gas into fuels with better alloys

August 14, 2018

Technological advances in oil and gas well stimulation over the past decade now allow for the production of natural gas from shale gas trapped in rock formations underground. With the sudden increase in the availability of ...

0 comments

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.