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A Molecular Switch Controlling Self-Assembly of Protein Nanotubes Discovered​
View : 6192 Date : 2014-02-03 Writer : ed_news

International collaborative research among South Korea, United States, and Israel research institutions
The key to the treatment of cancer and brain disease mechanism 

The molecular switch that controls the self-assembly structure of the protein nanotubes, which plays crucial role in cell division and intracellular transport of materials, has been discovered. KAIST Bio and Brain Engineering Department’s Professor Myeong-Cheol Choi and Professor Chae-Yeon Song conducted the research, in collaboration with the University of California in Santa Barbara, U.S., and Hebrew University in Israel. 

The findings of the research were published in Nature Materials on the 19th.
 
Microtubules are tube shaped and composed of protein that plays a key role in cell division, cytoskeleton, and intercellular material transport and is only 25nm in diameter (1/100,000 thickness of a human hair).
 
Conventionally, cancer treatment focused on disrupting the formation of microtubules to suppress the division of cancer cells. In addition Alzheimer’s is known to be caused by the diminishing of structural integrity of microtubules responsible for intercellular material transport which leads to failure in signal transfer.
 
The research team utilized synchrotron x-ray scattering and transmission electron microscope to analyze the self assemble structure of protein nanotubes to subnanometer accuracy. As a result, the microtubules were found to assemble into 25nm thickness tubules by stacking protein blocks 4 x 5 x 8nm in dimension. In the process, the research team discovered the molecular switch that controls the shape of these protein blocks. In addition the research team was successful in creating a new protein tube structure.
 
Professor Choi commented that they were successful in introducing a new paradigm that suggests the possibility of controlling the complex biological functions of human’s biological system with the simple use of physical principles. He commented further that it is anticipated that the findings will allow for the application of bio nanotubes in engineering and that this is a small step in finding the mechanism behind cancer treatment and neural diseases.

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