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Scripps Research scientists win $65 million in new grants to reveal form and function of proteins
Date:9/30/2010

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The scientists will use genomic, biochemical, and functional research in combination with structural studies to forge new inroads in the field.

Membrane Protein Structures

The new grants also support nine centerstwo of which are based at The Scripps Research Institutefor determining membrane protein structures. Membrane proteins, which are embedded in the membranes of our cells, are important because they enable our nerves, muscles, and even hormones to do their jobs. Currently, however, scientists can't easily visualize their three-dimensional shapes to understand how these proteins function.

The Scripps Research Institute center led by Stevens, Cherezov, Kuhn, Rosen, and Wthrich will focus on a special class of human membrane proteins called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), signaling molecules that span the membranes of cells, "sensing" chemical messages outside the cells and converting them into action within the cell. GPCRs are the largest family of proteins in the human genome.

"Our fundamental understanding of GPCR molecular recognition and signaling is still in the early stages," said Stevens. "Through the creation of the GPCR Network center, we will work directly with the GPCR community on improving our basic understanding of receptor structure and function using a variety of biophysical techniques including NMR, HDX, and X-ray crystallography, as well as computational and chemical screening techniques. Only a few GPCR structures in their inactive state have been solved to date and the basic understanding of this key membrane protein class will change drastically in the next five years with the NIH funding."

In a separate group, Chang, Rees, and Stowell will focus on a class of proteins called transportersa type of large protein that resides in the cell membrane and moves other molecules in and out. Transporters are vital to the biology of all cells and a variety of diseases occur when t
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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