Elucidating protein structure

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CHIKV is considered a neglected tropical virus by the World Health Association (WHO), with the potential of becoming a larger scale threat in part due to the influence of global warming on the mosquito population that serve as vectors for CHIKV.

The virus has a life cycle is dependent on its nonstructural protein function, one of specific interest is ns P2.

Previous studies investigated the stator and its interaction with the rotor by constructing mutant proteins and analyzing their functions. A team of Japanese researchers led by Homma's laboratory of Nagoya University have now purified the stator protein Mot A from a bacterium found in hot springs () and analyzed its three-dimensional structure using electron microscopy mainly in cooperation with Namba's laboratory of Osaka University.

They found that it can form a structure of four Mot A molecules (called a tetramer), which differs in shape from the previously predicted complex. The Mot A protein spans the bacterial membrane, and has previously been shown to form a tetramer complex with another transmembrane protein, Mot B, creating the stator.

Protein folding is one of the most important parameters to study in structural biology, therefore there is a need for improved computational methods in protein folding predictions.

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The three-dimensional structure of the Mot A complex has been determined from a large number of electron microscope images in this report.

Credit: Michio Homma Many bacterial species use spiral propellers (flagella) attached to motors to move through a liquid environment.

"We predict that its structure will change with the movement of ions through the stator channel and in association with the stator-motor interaction." The shape of the complex differs from that reported for a related protein complex in another bacterium.

Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are widely used in different fields, particularly in structure-based drug discovery.

The three-dimensional structure of a complex of Mot A and the flagellar motor structure in a bacterial cell.

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