Researchers uncover unusual glassy behavior in a disordered protein.
When UC Santa Barbara materials scientist Omar Saleh and graduate student Ian Morgan sought to understand the mechanical behaviors of disordered proteins in the lab, they expected that after being stretched, one particular model protein would snap back instantaneously, like a rubber band.
Instead, this disordered protein relaxed slowly, taking tens of minutes to relax into its original shape — a behavior that defied expectations, and hinted at an inner structure that was long thought to exist, but has been difficult to prove.
“The speed of relaxation is important because it gives us some insight into the structural organization of the protein,” said Morgan, the lead author in a paper published in Physical Review Letters. “This is important because the structural organization of a protein is usually related to its biological function.” read more