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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Now, I wonder...

Scientists at University of Yale have shown that chains assembled from beta amino-acids, instead than alpha as the one our proteins are built from, can show similar properties.

Frankly, the fact does not strike me as a particularly impressive discovery... But I wonder... what if we were to insert this kind of stuff in our body? Would we be able to create novel enzymes able to act on our own biochemical make-up? Would our enzymes be able to work on it? Now, that would be something... here follows the abstract.

thanks to Coturnix for pointing this out.

High-Resolution Structure of a beta-Peptide Bundle

Douglas S. Daniels, E. James Petersson, Jade X. Qiu, and Alanna Schepartz*

Departments of Chemistry and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8107

Received December 4, 2006


We recently reported that beta-peptides can form discrete hetero-oligomers in aqueous solution. Here we describe the structure of such an oligomer as determined by X-ray crystallography. The structure of Zwit-1F reveals a homo-octamer of two cupped "hands" composed of both parallel and antiparallel 314-helices. The core of the assembly is composed entirely of solvent-excluded beta3-homoleucine residues. The Zwit-1F assembly shares many of the physical characteristics of natural proteins.

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