Navigation Links
Unraveling the mysteries of poison

Researchers from the Max Planck Institite for Biophysical Chemistry and other German and French colleagues have combined magnetic resonance spectroscopy (solid-state NMR) with special protein synthesis procedures to uncover how potassium channels and toxins combine and change in structure. This work could make it possible to develop medications for high blood pressure and many other diseases connected to potassium channel failure (Nature, April 13, 2006).

Our body's cells have membranes, and "ion channels" are embedded in them. Ion channels are special proteins which let only certain ions through the membrane. The channels build an electro-chemical gradient, allowing nerve and heart muscle cell signals to pass. The nerve or heart muscle cell is excited, and the ion channel structure changes, developing pores which let the ions through. Different channels are open to different specific ions; for example, potassium channels only allow potassium ions through. Poisonous animals use very specific toxins to target channels; the toxins block the channels and make it impossible for electric signals to move through the membrane ?often killing the cell.

These kind of interactions had not been well investigated at a structural level ?even though scientists had made great strides studying ion channels, using x-ray crystallography. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, working together with researchers from the Institute for Neural Signal Processing in Hamburg and French colleagues from the University of Marseille, combined a new method of solid-state NMR with particular protein synthesis procedures and looked at the example of poison from the north African scorpion Androctonus mauretanicus mauretanicus, to determine how bacterial potassium channels interact with toxins at an atomic level.

The researchers first examined the electrophysiological characteristics of the "poisoned" channel protein. The scientists "s pin-marked" some of them and investigated them with solid-state NMR. Spin-marked proteins contain carbon and nitrogen atoms with an intrinsic magentic moment (spin) which strengthens the NMR's signals. Looking at spectroscopic data before and after the toxin affected the channel, it turned out that the poison attaches to a particular area of the channel ?the pore region ?and changes the area's structure. The poison is thus only effective when it recognises a particular amino acid sequence in the ion channel. It is also important how intrinsically flexible the binding partner is; for a strong interaction to take place, the molecules of both partners have to be able to change their structures.

Applying these new spectroscopic methods, scientists are now better understanding the pharmacology and physiology of potassium channels. This could lead to better, more specific medications.


'"/>

Source:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


Related biology news :

1. Unraveling a stomach cancer puzzle
2. Unraveling the viral mechanism
3. Unraveling where chimp and human brains diverge
4. ORNL, UC Berkeley unravel real-world clues to Earths mysteries
5. Tufts researchers shine light on firefly mysteries
6. How satellite tracking revealed the migratory mysteries of endangered Atlantic loggerhead turtles
7. Two central mysteries in genome inheritance solved at UCSD
8. Theory of oscillations may explain biological mysteries
9. Stanford snake venom study shows that certain cells may eliminate poison
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/2/2017)... 2017   TapImmune, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... in the development of innovative peptide and gene-based ... and metastatic disease, announced today it has successfully ... a second clinical lot of TPIV 200, the ... The manufactured vaccine product will be used to ...
(Date:2/1/2017)... -- IDTechEx Research, a leading provider of independent market ... of a new report, Sensors for Robotics: Technologies, Markets and ... ... ... Report "Sensors for Robotics: Technologies, Markets and Forecasts 2017-2027: Machine vision, ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... 2017  Crossmatch, a leading provider of security and ... at combatting fraud, waste and abuse in assistance operations ... Action on Disaster Relief conference in Panama ... agencies and foreign assistance organizations throughout Latin ... are a largely unacknowledged problem in the foreign assistance ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/20/2017)... ... February 20, 2017 , ... ... and telemedicine company announces at HIMSS 2017 Annual Conference (Orlando, FL) a ... offered via a global cloud-based sharing and collaboration platform as part of ...
(Date:2/20/2017)... , Feb. 20, 2017  At the ... in Orlando , IBM (NYSE: ... collaborators and clients. IBM Chairman, President and CEO ... opening keynote address today from 8:30-10 am ET, ... , and ibm.com/industries/healthcare. Her remarks examine the advent ...
(Date:2/18/2017)... ... February 17, 2017 , ... The BMT Tandem Meetings of ... International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) will take place Feb. 22-26, 2017 ... combined scientific sessions offer investigators, clinicians, laboratory technicians, clinical research professionals, nurses, pharmacists, ...
(Date:2/17/2017)... 2017  BioGenex, a global leader in molecular ... novel system for quantitative immunohistochemistry (IHC). The system ... Rochester (NY, USA) and Konica-Minolta Inc. ( ... able to accurately quantify the expression of an ... factor receptor-2) in clinical samples. Quantitative IHC is ...
Breaking Biology Technology: