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Researchers discover mechanism behind protein folding

Professor Ted Laurence, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are studying the biopolymer structural dynamics of proteins to understand the mechanism of protein folding. The new theory on protein folding unfolds the mystery of // how a protein is incorrectly folded which leads to diseases and the study is to be published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers used a technique called Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) and Alternating Laser Excitation (ALEX) to determine the distance between two protein folds and the structure of the protein folding and unfolding. Researchers found the fluorescence lifetime difference of donors and acceptors, which were 3 and 1.5 nanoseconds.

Professor Laurence said, “The lifetime of the donor drops significantly when FRET occurs. “Knowing the lifetime of the molecules within a mixture is especially helpful for protein folding studies.” The researchers were successful in finding the reasons for transition of folded state of the protein to unfolded state, they feel that the surrounding energy influences the protein to fold or to unfold and this may sometime leads to wrong folding leading to disease conditions.

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