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iSGTW Image of the week - SNAREd in the biological act

Image of the week - SNAREd in the biological act

A schematic snapshot of the SNARE protein complex embedded between two cell membranes. The dynamic 340,000 atom simulation was conducted using the distributed resources of DEISA.
Image © Marc Baaden

Cell membranes are a hot-zone of biological activity, allowing chemicals in and out of your cells, playing host to intra-membrane proteins, and even fusing with neighboring membranes. Disturbing any of these functions can have far-reaching consequences for your health, which is one reason why Marc Baaden is working to improve our understanding of just how cell membranes work.

Baaden and a team from the Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique, CNRS, France, are using complex computer simulations to model the function of the membrane-fusing SNARE complex.

Using GROMACS software and 218,000 CPU hours from 96 distributed DEISA processors, Baaden was able to simulate the dynamic interactions of the two-membrane SNARE system, a massive task incorporating the trajectories of 340,000 atoms.

Data from this model is now contributing to a greater understanding of membranes and the proteins with which they interact, which in turn can lead to the development of more effective pharmaceuticals for treatment of disorders such as tetanus, botulism and other metabolic diseases.

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