Navigation Links
Structure of protective protein in the eye lens revealed

The human eye lens consists of a highly concentrated mix of several proteins. Protective proteins prevent these proteins from aggregating and clumping. If this protective function fails, the lens blurs and the patient develops cataracts. Two research groups at the Department of Chemistry of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have succeeded in explaining the molecular architecture of this kind of protective protein. Their findings, which are published online in the current early edition of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), shed new light on the work of these proteins and may be able to help in the development of new treatments.

Cells have a variety of protein complexes that manage vital tasks. The functions of these "molecular machines" depend largely on their three-dimensional structure. In the first instance, proteins are long chains of amino acids, like a long piece of woolen thread. So-called chaperones help them to fold in the desired three-dimensional form after their production. If this folding process fails, the protein thread becomes an inextricable, useless tangle.

Small heat shock proteins (sHsps) are a particularly important group of chaperones. They prevent the clumping of proteins under stress conditions. αB-crystallin and the related sHsp αA-crystallin are the main representatives of the sHsps found in humans. Whereas αA-crystallin mainly occurs in the eye lens, αB-crystallin is also very common in the brain and in the heart and muscle tissue. In the eye lens, they counteract diseases like cataracts. Malfunctions of the αB-crystallin in tissue cells can give rise to cancer and neurological defects, including Alzheimer's disease.

Many research groups have focused their work on the α-crystallins due to their medical relevance. Despite intensive efforts, up to now, none of them have managed to determine the molecular architecture of these proteins. However, TUM biochemists have now succeeded in producing αA-crystallins and αB-crystallins recombinantly in bacteria and in obtaining uniform, clearly-structured complexes. A detailed structural analysis of these proteins was carried out in cooperation with the Chemistry Department's Center of Electron Microscopy. The research groups were able to show for the first time here that, contrary to previous suppositions, αB-crystallin forms a defined globular structure comprising 24 subunits, which are reminiscent of a perforated soccer ball.

Thanks to the identification of the three-dimensional structure of αB-crystallin, which is currently being further refined, the basis has now been established for comparing healthy and disease-promoting mutants and, based on this, for clarifying the way they function. The scientists hope that this will lead to the discovery of new treatments.


Contact: Patrick Regan
Technische Universitaet Muenchen

Related biology news :

1. Structure of 450 million year old protein reveals evolutions steps
2. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
3. A step toward tissue-engineered heart structures for children
4. Scientists learn structure of enzyme in unusual virus
5. Using nanotubes to detect and repair cracks in aircraft wings, other structures
6. Unveiling the structure of microcrystals
7. Why do males and females frequently differ in body size and structure?
8. Biopharmaceutical infrastructure key to lower drug development costs
9. First high-res 3D structures of mammalian HSP90 protein solved
10. New research on structure of bones raises questions for treatment of osteoporosis
11. Scientists unveil structure of molecular target of many drugs
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Structure of protective protein in the eye lens revealed
(Date:11/10/2015)... LONDON , Nov. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... segmented on the basis of product, type, ... segments included in this report are consumables, ... this report are safety biomarkers, efficacy biomarkers, ... in this report are diagnostics development, drug ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... 09, 2015 ... the "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market ... --> ) has announced the ... Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to their ... ( ) has announced the addition ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... November 4, 2015 --> ... report published by Transparency Market Research "Home Security Solutions Market ... Forecast 2015 - 2022", the global home security solutions market is ... by 2022. The market is estimated to expand at ... 2015 to 2022. Rising security needs among customers at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Pittcon is pleased ... technical presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, awards, and posters. The ... range of applications such as, but not limited to, biotechnology, biomedical, drug discovery, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 --> ... - 2020 report analyzes that automating biobanking workflow ... in long-term samples, minimizing manual errors, improving the ... manual errors such as mislabeling or inaccurate sample ... plays a vital role in blood fractionation, DNA ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... HOLLISTON, Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 ... HART ), a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants ... McGorry will present at the LD Micro "Main ... 2:30 p.m. PT. The presentation will be webcast live ... Management will also be available at the conference for ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: OREX ) ... chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th Annual Healthcare ... discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, at 8:00 ... replay will be available for 14 days after the ... NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development , BrewLife(858) 875-8629 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: