© CNRS Audiovisuel/Science Actualités/CSI - 1998

Architects of life

Reference

315

Duration

00:14:00

Production year

1998

Versions

Original material

SD
4/3
Color
Sound

Summary

Proteins are macromolecules at the basis of the cell functions of living organisms. To know their functions, one must know their structure for the shape is closely related to the function.

Using X-rays cristallography it is possible to visualize molecular structures. When an organic molecule in solution evaporate, a crystal deposit is formed. The crystals, lighted by an X-rays beam, produce a diffraction pattern which is used to reconstruct the structure of the molecule.

The source for X-rays is the synchrotron radiation produced by a particle accelerator.

A possible application of the study of protein 3D structure is the design of medications. The knowledge of the active zone of a molecule is used to synthetize an inhibitor. This inhibitor, penetrating the active zone, suppress the function and can for example kill a virus who need this particular function to survive.

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