24 March 2014

Model Making

Balancing on this dense forest of poles are the beginnings to the first molecular model of a protein ever to be made. Representing single atoms, each little ball is located in exactly the right position. The man behind the model is John Cowdery Kendrew, who was born on this day in 1917. Together with biologist Max Perutz, he won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for finding out the structure of two proteins using a method called X-ray crystallography. Though it’s essentially a type of microscopy that zooms in incredibly far, it’s tricky to use. Rather than creating a magnified picture, it produces a dotted pattern that scientists need to decipher. And to generate a clear pattern, the protein molecules need to be in a perfect crystal formation. Kendrew and Perutz cleverly accomplished both, and thereby pioneered a new level of understanding into the biomolecules that run life.

Written by Emma Bornebroek

Image courtesy of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Any re-use of this image must be authorised by the LMB

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It’s the birthday of Max Perutz, who was born in 1914 in Vienna. Perutz studied chemistry at the University of Vienna. For his PhD he went to the University of Cambridge, where he became one of pioneers in the application of x-ray crystallography to molecular biology. In 1937 he began studying the structure of the blood-transporting protein hemoglobin. The project, which took him 22 years to complete, earned him a share of the 1962 Nobel chemistry prize with his Cambridge colleague John Kendrew. That same year, his graduate student, Francis Crick, was awarded the Nobel medicine prize with James Watson for their determination of the physical and chemical structure of DNA.

source: Physics Today

This is a preparatory drawing for the myoglobin painting for the December 1961 Scientific American article, “The Three Dimensional Structure of a Protein Molecule” by biochemist John Kendrew. The notations in the drawing are comments between Kendrew and Geis.
Geis asks: “Which of these two treatments ‘A’ or 'B’ is preferable?" 
Kendrew writes: "Don’t forget the water molecule.”

via The Scientist