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Protein evolution follows a modular principle
Date:7/23/2014

is an intermediate form between the other two types. To compare the amino acid sequences, the researchers used a highly sensitive method that enabled them to identify even the smallest shared features. "Analysis of the three-dimensional structure of the intermediate form by X-ray crystallography showed that the intermediate form has characteristics of both the barrel-like and the sandwich-like folding type," says Farias-Rico.

The similarity of the amino acid sequences and the existence of an intermediate form confirm a hypothesis proposed by Birte Hcker, head of the Protein Design Working Group at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, according to which the two folding types developed in the course of evolution from a common ancestor. "We assume that evolutionarily early proteins consisted of only short amino acid chains. Those fragments then joined together as in a construction kit to form new molecules with new functions," Hcker explains.

Hcker's team has thus provided fresh insights into the evolution of modern proteins and the origins of life on Earth. In addition, the Max Planck scientist is pursuing research in the field of synthetic biology and wants to apply this knowledge to construct variant proteins with new functions in the laboratory.


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Contact: Nadja Winter
presse-eb@tuebingen.mpg.de
49-707-160-1444
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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