*Berkeley Lab Researchers Identify Structure of Key Control Element Behind Protein Misfolding That Can Lead to Disease*
The gold standard for nanotechnology is nature’s own proteins. These biomolecular nanomachines – macromolecules forged from peptide chains of amino acids – are able to fold themselves into a dazzling multitude of shapes and forms that enable them to carry out an equally dazzling multitude of functions fundamental to life. As important as protein folding is to virtually all biological systems, the mechanisms behind this process have remained a mystery. The fog, however, is being lifted.
A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), using the exceptionally bright and powerful x-ray beams of the Advanced Light Source, have determined the crystal structure of a critical control element within chaperonin, the protein complex responsible for the correct folding of other proteins. The incorrect or “misfolding” of proteins has been linked to many diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and some forms of cancer. (more…)