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Rice, UCSD scientists probe form, function of mysterious protein
Date:1/27/2012

ertwined.

Baxter found that both conformations were physically possible. She also found the protein could switch between the "strand-swapped" and "strand-unswapped" conformations without entirely unfolding. Moreover, this change in the twining of the arms was shown to alter the shape of the critical pocket that holds the iron-sulfur cluster; this makes the cluster more likely to be inserted or released in situations where the arms are untwined.

Like the magician using misdirection, the loosening of the grip on the cluster is subtle and happens in a different location than the flurry of arm motions. Jennings said it's the kind of thing that could easily be missed if the focus of the study were the cluster itself.

Onuchic said, "One of the advantages to our approach is that it allows us to look for relevant biophysical properties that control distant functional regions -- like mitoNEET's strand-swapping -- that can easily be missed with a more conventional approach."


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Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

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