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Protein engineering produces 'molecular switch'

Using a lab technique called domain insertion, researchers have joined two proteins in a way that creates a molecular “switch.” The result, the researchers say, is a microscopic protein partnership in which one member controls the activity of the other. Similarly coupled proteins may someday be used to produce specialized molecules that deliver lethal drugs only to cancerous cells. They also might be used to set off a warning signal when biological warfare agents are present.

Smart polymers provide light-activated switch to turn enzymes on and off

Researchers have applied studies in how proteins bind with different molecules to create a molecular switch that enables them to turn an enzyme on and off. The innovation holds promise for a wide range of laboratory processes, including highly targeted drug therapies. The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, describes a reversible switch for the enzyme endoglucanase in which light is the trigger for turning the switch on and off.