A new study by researchers at Rice University in Houston used computer simulations to explore the beginnings of the molecular process that marks the start of Alzheimer’s disease, which is triggered by the aggregation of a common protein called amyloid beta. The Rice investigators are the first to model the energy landscape of the pathogenic protein's assembly of many copies into its toxic form.
The team of investigators at Rice University who built computer simulations of amyloid beta proteins. From left, Weihua Zheng, Min-Yeh Tsai, Peter Wolynes and Mingchen Chen. Photo credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
The research, led by Prof. Peter Wolynes
of Rice’s Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, is reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
. The study is titled Amyloid Exploring the aggregation free energy landscape of the amyloid-beta protein (1–40)
Wolynes and his team
are pioneering the development of the energy landscape theory for proteins, which all start as amino acid chains. The sequence of proteins is determined by DNA, with each arrangement of the chain having a particular associated energy. The mapping of these energies a