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Proteins: New class of materials discovered
Date:8/22/2014

This news release is available in German.

Thanks to certain helper substances, in PCFs proteins are fixated in a way so as to align themselves symmetrically, forming highly stable crystals. Next, the HZB and Fudan University researchers are planning on looking into how PCFs may be used as functional materials. Their findings are being published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5634).

Proteins are sensitive molecules. Everyone knows that at least from having boiled eggs. Under certain circumstances like immersion in boiling water they denature, losing their natural shape, and becoming hard. True, researchers have been able to handle these substances for some time now, even to the point of crystallizing them in their native state. Admittedly, though, this does require considerable effort, but it is the only way how researchers can find out the structure of these substances at high resolution. Moreover, protein crystals are extremely fragile, highly sensitive and hard to handle.

Now, for the first time ever, scientists at China's Fudan University have managed to work around these downsides by linking the protein concanavalin A to helper molecules belonging to the sugar family, and to the dye rhodamin. The concanavalin molecules that have been thus fixated tended to arrange themselves symmetrically within the helper molecule framework, forming crystals, in which the proteins achieve high stability and are intricately interconnected into a protein crystalline framework.

Developing molecular structures like these is pointless unless you know exactly how they form and what their structure looks like at the level of the atoms. During the quest for suitable experimental methods, the Shanghai researchers turne
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Contact: Dr. Manfred Weiss
manfred.weiss@helmholtz-berlin.de
49-308-062-13149
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin fr Materialien und Energie
Source:Eurekalert  

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