Dr Seishi Shimizu, of the York Structural Biology Laboratory in the University’s Department of Chemistry, used chemical thermodynamics as a theoretical basis for the analysis of experimental data to reveal that salt bridges are strengthened significantly near hydrophobic surfaces.
A team from the University of Tokyo, the Japanese Institute of Material Science and Hokkaido University studied the strength of salt bridges using cutting edge nanotechnology. Dr Shimizu’s theory helped them estimate the strengthening of ion bridges, which turned out to be worth more than one and a half additional hydrogen bonding. The research was published in Science.
Scientists have long considered salt bridges a stabilising force in protein structures What happens to them at a protein’s surface in contrast to them in isolation, however, has been the subject of scientific speculation for decades.
Dr Shimizu said: “We have used nanotechnology to enhance our fundamental understanding of how proteins fold. This has the potential to help scientists in biotechnology and drug design.”
- The paper ‘Subnanoscale hydrophobic modulation of salt bridges in aqueous media’ is published in Science http://www.sciencemag.org/content/348/6234/555.abstract
- For more information about the Department of Chemistry at the University of York, please visit http://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/
- For more information about Dr Shimizu’s research, please visit http://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/staff/academic/o-s/sshimizu/