Planet Earth

Transformer protein changes from nunchucks to flower

Not Exactly Rocket ScienceBy Ed YongJul 19, 2012 5:50 PM

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Your body is full of little pieces of origami. They’re proteins – the molecular machines that keep your cells ticking over. Each is a long sequence of amino acids that folds into a complicated three-dimensional shape. The classical view is that the shape is fixed, and set by the protein’s sequence. But Bjorn Burmann from Ohio State University has found a bacterial protein that can refold into two radically different shapes, each with very different roles. While there are some other proteins that can change shape, none can do so to such a dramatic degree, and many that do cause disastrous brain diseases. I’ve written about the study for The Scientist, so head over there for the details.

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