Extremely elastic proteins

24. November 2014

The ultimate properties of proteins with respect to their ability to be force-reactive, are coarsely described by their capacity to withstand or transmit sensed force. Some proteins are able to be extremely elastic, storing potential energy and releasing it in the form of kinetic energy. One of the proteins sharing this functionality is Cnidoin, an intrinsically disordered protein that composes the nematocysts, explosive organelles of metazoans useful for self-defense and preying. By sensing the behaviour of the protein upon the application of external forces, molecular dynamics simulations interfaced to experiments will provide an understanding of the relations between the sequence of Cnidoin and its ability to appear as extremely elastic and fulfil its function. Ultimately, such an understanding will, on one side, provide the mechanism of nematocysts’ discharge and, on the other, will open new scenarios about the possibility of employing cnidoin’s elasticity for the development of new materials.

About HITS

The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.

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