Molecular machine work wins $25,000

A Yale researcher has won the $25,000 Wiley Prize in the Biomedical Sciences for his discovery of natural molecular machine that guides some proteins to fold properly in the warm, crowded environment inside cells:

They learned that a large double donut-shaped machine is responsible. They analyzed how that machine uses the energy of ATP and a lid structure to mediate folding inside a cavity within the ring. They found that an unfolded protein binds within an open ring of the machine and then the lid structure encapsulates it. The protein then folds in the sequestered space inside the cavity. The protein, through the action of ATP, pops out in its folded form in a sort of jack-in-the-box mechanism.

In the near term, this may be important for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, in which proteins misfold. Longer-term, knowing how proteins fold can help us design and build new nanoscale objects and molecular machines.

Recently we gave Wiley a hard time over their online per-article charges, so it’s nice to be able to recognize the company for something very positive such as this Prize. —Christine

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