On the effects of external stresses on protein conformation

Budi, B 2006, On the effects of external stresses on protein conformation, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Applied Sciences, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title On the effects of external stresses on protein conformation
Author(s) Budi, B
Year 2006
Abstract The use of electromagnetic devices such as microwave ovens and mobile phones has certainly brought convenience to our lives. At the same time, the proliferation of said devices has increased public awareness of the potential health hazards. It is generally assumed that there is little or no risk associated with the use of electromagnetic devices, based on the small amount of power associated with those devices. However, case studies on animals indicate that the risk cannot be entirely ruled out. It has long been known that proteins are sensitive to stress, arising from various sources such as temperature, chemical, pressure, and changes in pH condition. In all of these cases, the protein exhibits clear signs of damage and distress, which range from slight unfolding to complete loss of structure. Frequently, the damage to the protein is alleviated by refolding, either by itself or by the aid of molecular chaperones. However, if the damage to the protein is too great, the protein will generally undergo proteolysis. Opinion has been divided over the implication of prolonged use of electromagnetic devices to human health. Studies conducted on animals so far have given conflicting results. The studies on the separate components, electric and magnetic fields, also give inconclusive results. This indicates that our understanding on how electric and magnetic fields interact with biological matter is incomplete. In this project, we use molecular dynamics to explore the behaviour of two forms of insulin chain-B, isolated and monomeric (in the presence of chain-A with all disulfide bonds intact), at ambient conditions and under the influence of various stress. Specifically, we focus our attention to thermal stress and electric field stress. The electric field stress considered in this study takes several forms: static and oscillating with three different frequencies. These fields have strength ranging from 1806 V/m to 109 V/m. By performing molecular dynamics simulations totalling over 500 ns, we have gained valuable insights into the effects of elevated temperature and electric field on insulin chain-B. We observed differences in the damage mechanisms by the application of static electric field and oscillating field. The application of static fields restricts the conformational freedom of a protein, whereas the application of oscillating fields increases the mobility and flexibility of the protein, similar to the effect of thermal stress. Both of these interfere with the normal behaviour of a protein. We have also observed frequency-dependent effects, with low frequency fields having static field-like characteristics in damage mechanism.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Applied Sciences
Keyword(s) Electromagnetic fields - Health aspects
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