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Spanish scientists reveal dynamic map of proteins

Scientists from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), the Life Sciences Programme at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and the National Institute for Bioinformatics (INB) have published a provisional "atlas" of the dynamic behaviour of proteins in the prestigious scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. Proteins determine the shape and structure of cells and drive nearly all of a cell's vital processes. All proteins carry out their functions according to the same process by binding with other molecules. Now, the scientists have compiled a map that shows them how proteins can move and form complexes, a valuable tool that will help them understand the basic functions of the molecules, but also what happens when they function incorrectly. Such a map opens vast possibilities for the design of new drugs.

The goal of this study is to define a map of the dynamic properties of a very representative group of proteins. This involves taking stock of the basic rules that govern the flexibility of proteins and allows scientists to predict the structures that these proteins can form based on the presence of ligands or modifications. This allows scientists to go beyond the traditional simple static vision of proteins, which has not been able to capture the subtle conformational changes necessary for proteins to function. These changes modify, for example, how proteins bind to metabolites or drugs.

This is the first study of a larger scientific project, called MoDel (Molecular Dynamics Extended Library), the scope of which is even more ambitious. "MoDel aims to establish a 'fourth dimension' for protein structures thereby providing a complete landscape of possible conformations for the entire proteome (the complete network of protein interactions in a cell), over time. In the near future, a biochemist will be able to understand the behaviour of a protein, or design a drug that can interact with that pro
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Contact: Sonia Armengou
sarmengou@pcb.ub.es
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB)
9-Jan-2007


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