Navigation Links
Chemists concoct new agents to easily study critical cell proteins
Date:10/31/2010

MADISON -- They are the portals to the cell, gateways through which critical signals and chemicals are exchanged between living cells and their environments.

But these gateways -- proteins that span the cell membrane and connect the world outside the cell to its vital inner workings remain, for the most part, black boxes with little known about their structures and how they work. They are of intense interest to scientists as they are the targets on which many drugs act, but are notoriously difficult to study because extracting these proteins intact from cell membranes is tricky.

Now, however, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Stanford University has devised a technology to more easily obtain membrane proteins for study. Writing this week (Oct. 31) in the journal Nature Methods, the group reports the development of a class of agents capable of extracting complex membrane proteins without distorting their shape, a key to understanding how they work.

"The proteins are embedded in the membrane to control what gets into the cell and what gets out," explains Samuel Gellman, a UW-Madison professor of chemistry and a senior author of the paper along with Brian Kobilka of Stanford and Bernadette Byrne of Imperial College London. "If we want to understand life at the molecular level, we need to understand the properties and functions of these membrane proteins."

The catch with membrane proteins and unleashing their potential, however, is getting insight into their physical properties, says Gellman.

Like other kinds of proteins, membrane proteins exhibit a complex pattern of folding, and determining the three-dimensional shapes they assume in the membrane provides essential insight into how they do business.

Proteins are workhorse molecules in any organism, and myriad proteins are known. Structures have been solved for many thousands of so-called "soluble" proteins, but only a couple of hundred membrane protein structures are known, Gellman notes. This contrast is important because roughly one-third of the proteins encoded in the human genome appear to be membrane proteins.

To effectively study a protein, scientists must have access to it. A primary obstacle has been simply getting proteins out of the membrane while maintaining their functional shapes. To that end, Gellman's group has developed a family of new chemical agents, known as amphiphiles, that are easily prepared, customizable to specific proteins and cheap.

"These amphiphiles are very simple," says Gellman. "That's one of their charms. The other is that they can be tuned to pull out many different kinds of proteins."

The hope, according to Gellman, is that the new technology will facilitate research at the biomedical frontier.

The development of the amphiphiles was conducted in close collaboration with groups like Kobilka's, which specializes in techniques that help resolve the three-dimensional structures of proteins found in cell membranes.


'/>"/>

Contact: Samuel Gellman
Gellman@chem.wisc.edu
608-262-3303
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Team of chemists produces biodiesel at their university, using used cooking oil as a basis
2. Brown University chemists simplify biodiesel conversion
3. Scripps researchers, UCSD chemists to create center devoted to chemistrys influence on climate
4. Caltech chemists develop simple technique to visualize atomic-scale structures
5. DNA puts Stanford chemists on scent of better artificial nose
6. MIT chemists design new way to fluorescently label proteins
7. Colorado State University biochemists study how chromosomes unravel to let genes do their jobs
8. Chemists influence stem-cell development with geometry
9. Behavior of single protein observed in unprecedented detail by Stanford chemists
10. UNH chemists create molecule with promising semiconductor properties
11. Iowa State, Ames Lab chemists discover how antiviral drugs bind to and block flu virus
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/22/2016)... 22, 2016 ... of the  "Global Behavioral Biometric Market ... --> http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/4lmf2s/global_behavioral ) has announced ... Biometric Market 2016-2020"  report to their ... Markets ( http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/4lmf2s/global_behavioral ) has announced the ...
(Date:1/20/2016)... A market that just keeps on growing. Molecular Diagnostics ... genomics knowledge. Learn all about it in this new ... trends are pushing market growth and company valuations. Trends ... pathogen evolution - next generation sequencing - emergence of ... the role of genetic material in Disease and Health ...
(Date:1/18/2016)... JOSE, Calif. , Jan. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... security software that simplifies the use and access ... technology and go-to-market partnership with American Cyber.  ... Cyber brings extensive experience leading transformational C4ISR and ... implementing and integrating the latest proven technology solutions," ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... 11, 2016 , ... Global Stem Cells Group, ... Global Stem Cells Network (GSCN) to distribute exosome injection and other biological products ... Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Early-career researchers from ... , Uganda and Yemen ... nutrition   Indonesia , Nepal ... Yemen are being honored for their accomplishments in ... celebrated for mentoring young women scientists who are pursuing careers in agriculture, ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... 2016 ASAE is introducing a hybrid membership ... (AMC) the option of joining or renewing through an ... by staff size, every employee in any size association ... reap all available member benefits.   John ... membership options will allow organizations of any size and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016  Allergan plc (NYSE: ... that Brent Saunders , Allergan,s CEO and President, ... fireside chat session at the RBC Capital Markets Healthcare ... ET at The New York Palace Hotel in ... be webcast live and can be accessed on Allergan,s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: