Navigation Links
University of Alberta medical scientists first in the world to look at structure of vital molecule

Molybdenum is an essential metal required in all living beings from bacteria to plants to humans. But as vital as this metal is, no one understood the importance of its structure until the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's Joel Weiner and his team jumped on the case.

Molybdenum plays critical roles in human health. It does not act alone but is found attached to certain proteins, called molybdenum enzymes, by a very large organic molecule. The organic molecule that holds the molybdenum in place in a protein is extraordinarily complex. and "expensive" for the cell to make, b But the structure of this molecule should make sense to scientists now, thanks to Weiner and his research team.

For starters, the research group found that the molecule occurs in nature in two forms based on their appearance flat or distorted. Weiner's team was able to show that the distorted form and flat form have very different functions. The distorted molecule plays a role in the transfer of electrons to the molybdenum, whereas the flat molecule prepares and co-ordinates positioning of the enzyme so it can be part of a biochemical reaction.

"This is important because molybdenum is so essential throughout biology," said Weiner. "We need to understand why the cell goes to all this trouble."

The distorted form is found in proteins involved in metabolic, respiratory and cardiac diseases. The flat form occurs in a protein required for brain development, and defects in this protein cause death in infancy. Understanding of this flat form could help lead to treatment of this defect.

It all started for Weiner and his research group in the Department of Biochemistry about three years ago. Although scientists worldwide had known the overall structure of molybdenum in proteins for many years, no one understood why it is so complicated. It was a summer student, Matthew Solomonson, who noticed that one of the structures holding molybdenum was very flat while the other group was distorted. As curiosity-based research goes, the summer student and Weiner's research team wondered if it was significant. The answer is yes.

"When you bring in a new student it's really good because they have a fresh way of looking at things," says Weiner of Solomonson who is now a grad student at the University of British Columbia.

"This discovery is a major one for my lab and will have a huge impact on molybdenum biochemistry research."

Now the team will use protein-engineering techniques to change the protein environment around the molybdenum.

"This is a critical next step," said Weiner. "We hope to finally start understanding the chemistry of these enzymes at atomic resolution, and to modulate their activities to better understand human disease and explore potential biotechnology and biomedical applications."

Contact: Quinn Phillips
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

Related biology news :

1. University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible
2. University of Alberta led research may have discovered how memories are encoded in our brains
3. BGI, University of Helsinki and Wuhan University sign a MOU concerning cooperation on genomics
4. Marshall University study may lead to new treatments for prostate cancer
5. University leads £6 million EU project to tackle obesity
6. A University of Tennessee professors hypothesis may be game changer for evolutionary theory
7. Life expectancy may affect when you get married, divorced, have kids: Queens University study
8. University of Toronto biologists predict extinction for organisms with poor quality genes
9. University of Minnesota invention helps advance reliability of alternative energy
10. Israel names Tel Aviv Universitys Renewable Energy Center a Center of Research Excellence
11. University of Minnesota startup offers game-changing energy solutions that reduce CO2 emissions
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/22/2016)... ANGELES , June 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... identity management and verification solutions, has partnered ... edge software solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service ... provides products that add functional enhancements ... partnership provides corporations and venues with an ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... The global Biometric ... USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according to a ... proliferation and increasing demand in commercial buildings, consumer ... the market growth.      (Logo: ... of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric authentication and ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... , June 7, 2016  Syngrafii Inc. and ... business relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ ... project. This collaboration will result in greater convenience ... credit union, while maintaining existing document workflow and ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Mass. , June 23, 2016   ... development of novel compounds designed to target cancer ... napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from ... the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction ... stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... Plate® YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval ... of microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network ... Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is ... projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The Design Lab is ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated ... the medical community, has closed its Series A funding ... . "We have received a commitment from ... we need to meet our current goals," stated ... the runway to complete validation on the current projects ...
Breaking Biology Technology: