Modeling Signal Transduction

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Science  09 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5472, pp. 1705
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5472.1705b

Signal transduction is an integral part of biological systems. When a receptor is stimulated, small “messenger” molecules often act as transducers to carry the signal to the next site (the “effector”) in the signaling cascade. Krauss et al. now report the synthesis of a molecule that contains both a receptor and an effector. The molecule transduces the signal through a conformational switch; a central three-ring unit that can switch between two conformers is located between four ligands, two at either end. Upon binding zinc (Zn2+), the ligands at one end come closer together, which triggers a conformational change in the central unit that in turn increases the separation of the ligands at the far end from the Zn2+ binding site. This change can be monitored through a change in the fluorescence signal of the molecule. The process is reversible. Modifications of the present molecule may allow different stimuli, such as photoisomerization, to be exploited at the receptor, and could trigger the release of an ion or ligand at the effector.—JU

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.39, 1835 (2000).

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