Published on September 19, 2005 at 5:35 PM
It turns out that CD38 helps produce at least two calcium messenger molecules, each of which then opens channels for the release of calcium from specific stores, or reservoirs, within cell organelles.
High intensity X-rays made it possible to pass photons through a protein crystal to reveal its structure. Cornell's synchrotron produces beams of X-rays millions of times more intense than conventional X-ray generators allow. The very intense beams were necessary to determine the atomic structure of CD38. The research group, which includes researchers from the University of Minnesota, also developed new calculations that allowed them to extract the protein's entire structure from the X-ray images.
By revealing CD38's detailed structure, scientists can now begin to examine how the protein's form influences its molecular functions.
"People have been struggling with this for a long time, and we have finally solved it," said Hao.