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Home > Press > Computer-rendered flexibility map of Bacteriorhodposin

Nanomechanical Sensing Group, Rowland Institute at Harvard
Nanomechanical Sensing Group, Rowland Institute at Harvard

Investigators study the properties of proteins, akin to tiny molecular machines with complex moving parts, by analyzing their crystal structures.

Computer-rendered flexibility map of Bacteriorhodposin

Cambridge, MA | Posted on January 12th, 2010

Given the extremely small physical dimensions involved, capturing the "frozen images of their atoms" is extremely difficult. Moreover, these molecular machines work fast---moving to and fro in mere microseconds. To take a snapshot, a team at the Rowland Institute at Harvard led by Ozgur Sahin, Primary Investigator and Junior Fellow, and Sudhir Husale, postdoctoral fellow, developed a new technology called microsecond force spectroscopy. The method offers dramatically improved spatial and temporal resolutions in mechanical measurements and provides researchers with a robust platform to investigate a wide range of proteins involved in diseases and other biological processes. Pictured is a computer-rendered flexibility map of Bacteriorhodposin, a membrane protein that converts light into electrical energy. The findings were published online in Nature on December 13. Sahin and Husale's collaborators included Henrik H. J. Persson, a Research Associate at the Stanford Genome Technology Center, and Mingdong Dong, a postdoctoral fellow at Rowland.


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Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) is a private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and a member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1636 by the colonial Massachusetts legislature, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and currently comprises ten separate academic units. It is also the first and oldest corporation in the United States.

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