Advancing NMR analysis techniques with genetically encoded markers

Advancing NMR analysis techniques with genetically encoded markers

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  • 15 September 2023
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Studying the structure of proteins at a molecular level is challenging at the best of times and studying one specific portion of a protein is even harder. 

Many chemists use a technique called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to study the structure of molecules. In this technique, magnetic fields are applied to the molecule and the way the molecule behaves in the field gives clues to the structure. 

As large proteins are made up of amino acids that have similar structural features to each other, many similar clues are given and finding and studying one specific area of a protein is problematic. To assist this analysis, certain chemical probes can be added to specific parts of a molecule which behave in an X-marks-the-spot manner, giving a distinct signal for a particular region of the protein. 

Centre CI Gottfried Otting, research fellow Elwy H. Abdelkader and their collaborators developed a method to genetically encode a probe, allowing straight-forward site-selective installation in a protein and analysis of its environment by NMR. The team used their technique to study the way particular areas of a protein interact with other proteins and how their structure responds to changes in their environment. 

This study presents an important tool for studying proteins developed by Flagship 2 within our Decode theme. 

Reference: Abdelkader, E. H., et al., 2021, doi/pdf/10.1021/jacs.0c11971 

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