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Chemical switch triggers critical cell activities

ystallography, scientists bombard crystals of proteins with X-rays and use the patterns formed by beams bouncing off the crystals to create computer-generated 3-D images of the molecules.

The goal was to create a freeze-frame image that captured the fleeting moment when E2 is next to NEDD8, just before it falls off and carries NEDD8 with it. To do that, Schulman's team first had to prevent E2 from binding with NEDD8, so it would not fall away from E1. The investigators used a mutated form of E2 that binds to the docking site and gets near NEDD8, but cannot form a thioester bond with it. The team reasoned that if E2 could not bind to NEDD8, it would be stuck on the docking site with nothing to do and nowhere to go. An X-ray crystallography image could then capture that moment.
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Source:St. Jude Children's Research Hospital


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