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Munich researchers demonstrate rocking movement in the anti-stress protein Hsp90
Date:8/23/2010

The protein Hsp90 plays a significant role in the survival of cells that are exposed to stress. Researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) uncovered this protein's mode of operation some time ago but now Hsp90 has surprised even the experts with an unexpected pattern of motion. The results are published in the current online issue of the renowned science journal PNAS and may help researchers discover specific cancer medication.

Proteins are the motors of the cell: They transport, among other things, nutrients, move our muscles, convert substances chemically or fold other proteins. The so-called heat shock protein Hsp90 is eminently important for our cells since it plays a decisive role in many basic processes in humans as well as in bacteria or yeasts. For example, it is decisive in folding polypeptide chains into functioning proteins with very precisely defined spatial structures. Especially when cells are exposed to stress through heat or poisonous substances, Hsp90 production increases to keep the damage in check.

The anti-stress protein is a dimer (which consists of two identical proteins) and can be roughly divided into three segments: the N terminal domain at the top, the middle domain and the C terminal at the bottom. Hsp90 taps the energy it requires for its work from the slow splitting of ATP, the fuel of every cell. In this process, the two strands move in opposing directions, albeit only a few nanometers. The TUM groups of Prof. Thorsten Hugel from the Department of Physics and Prof. Johannes Buchner from the Department of Chemistry are quite familiar with the movement of Hsp90: They were the first to observe the scissor-like movement in real-time. Yet even they were caught off guard: Instead of the familiar one-ended scissor movement at the N terminal domains they were now observing the rocking movement at both ends of the protein.

Hsp90 opens and closes in a scissors-like manner at the C terminal as well
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Contact: Andreas Battenberg
battenberg@zv.tum.de
49-892-891-0510
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert

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