A new biophysical and biochemical study may lead to better understanding of how structural flexibility controls the interaction of a protein that is closely involved with cancer, aging and other chronic diseases —thereby facilitating future development of better therapeutic strategies, according to a Kansas State University biochemist.
Jianhan Chen, an assistant professor of biochemistry, was one of the researchers on a collaborative project that took a combined computational and experimental approach to understand how protein p21 functions as a versatile regulator of cell division.
The study used computer simulation to rationalize results from biochemical and biophysical experiments, and provided further insights that would guide future investigations, Chen said. In this case, the focus is human protein p21 and its ability to function as an inhibitor of normal cell growth.
Chen is continuing work with p21 and other small proteins that regulate cell cycles.
In 2010 Chen received more than $670,000 as a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. CAREER is the foundation's most prestigious award for junior faculty to support early development activities of teach-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the organization's mission. He and his lab focus on computer modeling to understand how biomolecules perform their biological functions.