by Anne Trafton

New computer model can design specific protein interactions

Interactions between proteins underlie nearly everything that happens inside a cell -- from reading DNA to communicating with the outside world. Many of those proteins have very similar structures, yet somehow they locate and interact with only their specific partner. For years, scientists have been trying to model and design such interactions, with limited success. Now, MIT researchers have developed a model, reported in this week's issue of Nature, that can be used to design new protein interactions and could help scientists create proteins for use in developing new drugs.

"The proteins we design now are not likely to become drugs or therapeutics, but can be used in order to figure out the basic mechanisms of these interactions, which could be extremely valuable," said Amy Keating, associate professor of biology and senior author of the paper being published in the April 16 issue of Nature.

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