Researchers from McGill University in Canada have managed to take a series of 3D images of a megaenzyme in action, as reported in a study recently published in Nature. Those important proteins play an active role in producing many common antibiotics, including penicillin and cyclosporin.
Since these molecules are very small and are in constant motion, it is very hard to take clear pictures of them. Researchers used chemical traps to capture the protein in the desired position. They then used a technique called X-ray crystallography to take a series of 3D pictures of a little piece of this crucial drug-synthesizing protein in action.
Put in the context of a larger piece of the protein, these 3D images can help scientists understand how many antibiotics are produced. Eventually, this could lead to the development of improved next-generation antibiotics, according to the McGill scientists. It could also have positive implications for a worldwide crisis that is threatening public health: antibiotic resistance.
Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She's the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.