Scientists have identified and validated a novel approach to reducing lignin in plants by tweaking a key lignin enzyme. Their technique could help lower the cost of converting biomass into carbon-neutral fuels to power cars and other sustainably developed bio-products. Read more »
Researchers have published a landmark study that used both crystallography and SAXS to validate computationally designed structures of novel proteins with repeated motifs. The results show that the protein-folding universe is far larger than realized, opening up a wide array of new possibilities for biomolecular engineering. Read more »
Scientists working at the ALS recently solved the crystallographic structures of several amine transporters in an effort to better understand why the human brain responds to chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. What they found will help in the design of drugs to treat many neurological diseases, and may also lead to a better understanding of how addiction to abused drugs such as cocaine can be managed. Read more »
Neurotransmitter receptor proteins are critical to learning and memory. Mutations are associated with neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions including Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and autism. Structures of two such receptors, solved by x-ray crystallography, provide a blueprint for the development of therapeutics. Read more »
Scientists have gotten their first detailed look at the molecular structure of an enzyme that Nature has been using for eons to help silence unwanted genetic messages: Dicer, an enzyme that plays a critical role in a process known as RNA interference.
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RNA, like protein, can sometimes function as an enzyme (ribozyme) to speed biochemical reaction rates. But how does RNA, a simple polymer, enhance reaction rates by at least a million fold? Researchers obtained the structures of a ribozyme trapped in different states of its catalytic cycle, showing how a change in the RNA conformation governs the reaction mechanism. Read more »