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Everything starts with recognition

A human body has more than 10 to the power of 27 molecules with about one hundred thousand different shapes and functions. Interactions between molecules determine our structure and keep us alive. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart in collaboration with scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute in Freiburg and the Kings Collage London have followed the interaction of only two individual molecules to show the basic mechanism underlying recognition of dipeptides. By means of scanning tunnelling microscopy movies and theoretical simulations they have shown how dynamic interactions induce the molecular fit needed for the transfer of structural information to higher levels of complexity. This dynamic picture illustrates how recognition works at the very first steps, tracking back the path in the evolution of complex matter. (Angewandte Chemie international April 20th 2007)

If one thinks that there are thousands of times more molecules forming our body than stars in the universe it is astonishing how all these molecules can work together in such an organised and efficient way. How can our muscles contract to make us walk? How can food be metabolised every day? How can we use specific drugs to relieve pain?

To work as a perfect machine, our body ultimately relies on the capability of each little part (molecule) to know a specific function and location out of countless possibilities. To do this, molecules carry information in different ways. An international team at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, in collaboration with scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute in Freiburg and the King's College London are seeking to find out how the information can be passed on at the very first steps: from the single molecule level to structures of increasing complexity and functionality.

The key to understanding all biological processes is recognition. Each molecule has a unique comp
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Contact: Magal Lingenfelder
m.lingenfelder@fkf.mpg.de
49-711-689-1620
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
23-Apr-2007


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