Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advanced Spectroscopy Technique Allows Scientists to Analyze Protein Structure with Infrared Light

Proteins come in many forms and are essential for cellular function. Each protein has a defined structure that is necessary for the protein to perform its function. The most common structures found in proteins are alpha helices and beta pleated sheets. Disruption of the normal common structures in a protein is associated with diseases such as Alzheimer or Parkinsons disease.

Interferometer for FTIR
Until now spectroscopic techniques lacked the sensitivity to analyze protein structure. However, a recent paper published in Nature Communications describes the work of European scientist using a technique called Fourier transform infrared nanospectroscopy (nano FTIR) that allows mapping of protein structure with a 30 nm resolution. This allowed them to identify the structure of proteins in a complex or to identify the protein structures characteristic of a virus (alpha helices) mixed in with insulin fibrils (beta pleated sheets).

The authors believe that this approach will be very useful, with the potential to map the structure of cellular receptors and proteins within complexes.

Original article: Structural analysis and mapping of individual protein complexes by infrared nanospectroscopy

Some information for this blog was obtained from: Infrared Sheds Light On Single Protein Complexes