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September 26, 2012
EMBL Chemical Biology: Weird Aggregating Compounds
Now I'm listening to Jim Wells (UCSF) talk about (among other things) this work, where they found a compound aggregating and causing activity in their assays. But this one wasn't doing the standard globular gunk that the usual aggregation gives you. Instead, the compound formed nanofibrils - microns long. And the enzyme that the compound showed activity against turns out to bind to the surface of the fribrils. Wells likens the effect to the way that Brussel sprouts grow, and his electron micrograph does indeed look pretty close. The question is, does this mimic something that happens "in real life", or is it a complete artifact? There's a paper in press in JBC going into some of the details. Just goes to show you that compounds are capable of doing things that you'd never have been able to guess.
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