Search This Blog

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Big moves in protein structure prediction and design


Custom design with atomic level accuracy enables researchers to craft a whole new world of proteins



The potential of modular design for brand new proteins that do not exist in the natural world is explored Dec. 16 in the journal Nature. The reports are the latest in a recent series of developments toward custom-designing proteins.
Naturally occurring proteins are the nanoscale machines that carry out nearly all the essential functions in living things.
While it has been known for more than 40 years that a protein's sequence of amino acids determines its shape, it has been challenging for scientists to predict a protein's three-dimensional structure from its amino acid sequence.
Conversely, it has been difficult for scientists to devise brand new amino acid sequences that fold up into hitherto unseen structures. A protein's structure dictates the types of biochemical and biological tasks it can perform.
The Nature papers look at one type of natural construction: proteins formed of repeat copies of a structural component. The researchers examined the potential for creating new types of these proteins. Just as the manufacturing industry was revolutionized by interchangeable parts, originating protein molecules with the right twists, turns and connections for their modular assembly would be a bold direction for biotechnology.