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MSSI research on membrane proteins published in Nature

Dr Twefik Soulimane, MSSI, Lead  Researcher on the project

Dr Tewfik Soulimane of MSSI, together with his research team of Joseph Lyons and Orla Slattery, and in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin have had their paper 'Structural insights into electron transfer in caa3-type cytochrome oxidase' published in Nature, the world's most highly cited interdisciplinary science journal with an impact factor of 36.

Dr Soulimane's research has led to the discovery of crystal structure of a key enzyme, caa3-oxidase, which provides a vital function in the conversion of oxygen to water and energy within living cells.  The researchers believe their findings will pave the way for scientists to understand serious genetic disorders and develop drugs to treat them.   Dr Soulimane said  "These findings will have a profound impact on basic and applied sciences through the understanding of cellular respiration and energy conservation, as well as genetic disorders, including Leigh syndrome, MEALS and AISA.  The structure will help our understanding of these diseases and subsequently will aid researchers in the rational design and discovery of drugs that can help alleviate their affects".  This is the first novel membrane protein structure solved by research groups based in Ireland.  This enzyme has long been known to provide a central function in cellular respiration and energy conservation however, up until now, this enzyme's make-up and function has not been fully understood.  As well as being the first protein structure solved by an Irish-based research group, MSSI researchers believe it is also the largest membrane protein that has been crystallised to date using a crystallisation technique discovered by Landau and Rosenbusch at the Biocentre in Basel, Switzerland, in 1996.

Science Foundation Ireland funded the research, which has been carried out at the Materials and Surface Science Institute and the Department of Chemical and Environmental Sciences, UL.

Details of the paper can be found on the following link: