Scientists design brand-new protein structure

Interrogating proteins. Credit: Emily G. Baker et al.

This particular research will help to design tiny proteins as well as also tiny molecules which could be the basis for future biotechnologies as well as also medicines.


A team of chemists as well as also biochemists by the Bristol BioDesign Institute have designed a brand-new protein structure.

This particular is usually much simpler than most naturally occurring proteins, which has allowed the scientists to unpick some of the molecular forces which assemble as well as also stabilise protein structures. The work is usually published inside the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Proteins are the workhorses of biology. For example, they help convert light energy into sugar in plants, transport oxygen by our lungs to our muscles, as well as also combine sugar as well as also oxygen to Discharge energy to make the muscles work. To perform these tasks, proteins must adopt specific 3D structures, called protein folds.

In chemical terms, proteins are polymers, or strings of amino acids, much like the beads of a necklace. There are 20 different chemistries of the amino-acid building blocks. This particular is usually the combination of these along the protein string which determines how a protein folds up into its functional 3D shape. Despite decades of effort, scientists still don’t understand how biology achieves This particular protein-folding process, or, once folded, how protein structures are stabilised.

To address This particular problem, the Bristol team have combined two types of protein structure—called an ? helix as well as also a polyproline II helix—to make a stripped down, or simplified protein called a miniprotein.

This particular is usually basic science with the simple aim of seeing how tiny a stable protein structure can be. This particular is usually important, as natural proteins are usually very large as well as also cumbersome structures, which are currently too complicated for chemists as well as also biochemists to dissect as well as also understand. inside the miniprotein, which the team call ‘PP?’, the two helices wrap around each additional as well as also their amino acids contact intimately in what are termed ‘knobs-into-holes’ interactions. This particular was expected, indeed the team designed PP? by scratch based on their understanding of these interactions.

Dr Emily Baker, who led the research in Professor Dek Woolfson’s laboratory, decided to change some of the amino acids in these knobs-into-holes interactions to non-natural amino acids, which the wonders of modern protein chemistry allow.

By doing This particular, Emily discovered which as well as the expected forces which hold proteins together, known as hydrophobic interactions, additional more-subtle forces were at play in stabilising the miniprotein structure.

Chemists know these tiny forces as CH-? interactions, as well as also they are found throughout the chemical world. When Drs Gail Bartlett as well as also Kieran Hudson, also by the Bristol team, searched the thousands of natural protein structures available they found many examples of these CH-? interactions.

Moreover, the proteins which they occur in play roles in different biological process, many of which are associated with disease. This particular presents potential targets for brand-new drugs, as well as also the CH-? interactions may provide a valuable brand-new route into developing these. Dr Baker explained: “Our work has implications not only for understanding the basic science of protein folding as well as also stability, yet also for guiding the design as well as also engineering of brand-new proteins as well as also drug molecules.”

Professor Woolfson added: “This particular is usually precisely what the brand-new Bristol BioDesign Institute is usually about. We aim to deliver the very best basic science. In This particular way, we will open unforeseen routes to translating fundamental science into biotechnology as well as also biomedical applications.”


Explore further:
Scientists shed light on controversial theory of protein structure

More information:
Engineering protein stability with atomic precision in a monomeric miniprotein, Nature Chemical Biology (2017). nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nchembio.2380

Journal reference:
Nature Chemical Biology

Provided by:
University of Bristol

Scientists design brand-new protein structure

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