Russian scientists discovered the «rocking» of molecules in crystals

© Illustration RIA Novosti . A. Planinata artist is protein molecules that jiggle inside the crystalsRussian scientists discovered the «rocking» of molecules in crystals© Illustration RIA Novosti . A. Polyanina

A team of Russian scientists from St. Petersburg state University, headed by the head of the laboratory of biomolecular nuclear magnetic resonance by Mykola Skrynnikova, investigated the rocking motion of protein molecules in crystals. The work was supported by the Russian science Foundation (RSF), and its results were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Molecular crystals are se6ya solids in which the molecules are Packed in a special way. They can be compared with the usual crystal, where the atoms are arranged orderly, and the whole system is composed of identical three-dimensional shapes, e.g. cubes. Only in the corners of these figures are molecules instead of atoms. Long been known that hydrated (i.e., containing water) crystals of protein molecules have some mobility, but to date this phenomenon has not been studied.

© Photo : Press service of the University Anomalocera squirrelRussian scientists discovered the «rocking» of molecules in crystals© Photo : Press service of the University Anomalocera protein

A group of Russian scientists with foreign colleagues were able to determine exactly what protein molecules in crystals may slightly change its position, making a kind of «jiggle». The study used both experimental methods and computer simulation techniques. With their help, scientists were able to compile a fairly complete picture of the dynamics of protein molecules in crystals.

«The idea of domestic crystal tells us that it is something solid and static. In fact, as we were recently able to show that protein molecules in crystals are often «sway». The amplitude of such movement is small, only a few degrees, but enough to thoroughly ruin the quality of x-ray diffraction pattern. In our recent joint work with Paul Sanday from the Institute of structural biology in Grenoble, we have presented experimental data that allow with good accuracy to determine the timing characteristics previously discovered rocking motion (studied crystal ubiquitin tens of microseconds),» — talks about the recent discovery of the Nikolai Skrynnikov, one of the authors of the article, the head of RSF grant.

An important contribution to the research made by the postgraduate student of physical faculty of St. Petersburg state University Sergey Izmailov and employee, faculty of biology, St. Petersburg state University Olga Rogacheva.

X-ray diffraction based on the change in the way electromagnetic waves when bent around obstacles (protein molecules). Research in modern molecular biology is largely based on data obtained using this method. But if the molecules actually vary, and are not in place, the results from admittedly inaccurate. Scientists hope that their discovery will help to clarify and correct the data relating to the position of protein molecules in the crystal. This can be useful for drug development, as the configuration of pharmacological compounds relies on crystallographic structures of proteins.

© Nikolai Syndikalisten cell of the crystal of ubiquitin. On the right shows contact between protein molecules that affect the internal dynamics of ubiquitin.Russian scientists discovered the «rocking» of molecules in crystals© Nicholas Syndikalisten cell of the crystal of ubiquitin. On the right shows contact between protein molecules that affect the internal dynamics of ubiquitin.

During their two-year study, scientists also have a hypothesis about the existence of a causal relationship between the dynamics of individual elements and the rocking motion of the protein molecule as a whole. However, this hypothesis has not yet received experimental confirmation, and scientists hope in the future to investigate this alleged relationship.

 

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