Recent developments and research have now allowed the protein to zip up together pretty much how DNA molecules join together in order to form a double-helix structure. The development of this technique has been led by scientists at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington. Using this technique, it is possible to protein nanomachines that can allow treating certain diseases and can help in their early diagnosis. These nanomachines can also help in exact engineering of the cells while also being able to perform a wide array of other tasks.
According to Zibo Chen, who lead this paper and is a graduate student in biochemistry at the University of Washington, It is important for parts to come together in a precise way if a machine has to work. He further adds that this technique allows one to design proteins, in order to allow them to come together with the way you want them to come.
The research was directed by David Baker who is a professor of Biochemistry at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Moreover, it was carried out at the Institute of Protein Design at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Previously, the researchers who used to be interested in the design of biomolecular machines used DNA as the prime component. This is primarily because DNA strands form hydrogen bonds in order to come together and form the double-helix structure. This, however, requires their sequences to be complementary.
New protein design algorithms were developed by the team producing complementary proteins that form a precise pair which each other. These pairs use the very same language of chemicals as the DNA strands do.
This is a breakthrough that is first of its kind, according to Chen. He further adds that what they have done primarily revolves around the computation design of the hydrogen-bond networks allowing every protein pair to come to each other in order to form a complementary sequence. There is no risk of cross-reactions with other pairs of proteins, and there happens to be only a single way in which they can essentially come together.
The future of medicine revolves around the engineering of cells in order to allow them to do new and unique tasks, whether it is to clean up toxic waste, create immune cells that can attack cancer cells, or engineering bacteria to produce energy.
Using this particular technique of protein pairing, scientists are able to precisely control the way in which the protein machines interact with each other. This is a key step towards the achievement of the tasks. Essentially, this has opened a major door to the design of protein nanomaterials.
The computer program used in this research was developed in Rosetta, the Baker Lab. This program relies on the fact that the shape that which an amino acid chain takes is primarily dependent on the forces of repulsion and attraction between the fluid in which the chain is immersed, and the amino acid chain itself.