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School of Biochemistry authors contribute publication and cover image for FEBS Open Bio

4 August 2017

The Journal ''FEBS Open Bio' dedicated the cover illustration of its August issue to the Research Article “Structural flexibility of human α‐dystroglycan” by Sonia Covaceuszach, Manuela Bozzi, Maria Giulia Bigotti, Francesca Sciandra, Petr Valeryevich Konarev, Andrea Brancaccio and Alberto Cassetta, a study carried out in collaboration between Bristol Biochemistry with the Istituto di Cristallografia (IC-CNR) and Istituto di Chimica del Riconoscimento Molecolare (ICRM-CNR) in Italy.

The article reports the structural characterization of the N-terminal domain of human a-dystroglycan, a protein complex that links the cellular cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix. Dystroglycan is involved in crucial physiological functions offering mechanicl stability to tissues, organizing the extracellular matrix molecular network and influencing cellular polarity. Besides, dystroglycan alterations can cause severe neuromuscular pathologies collectively known as dystroglycanopathies.

By combining studies at high- and low-resolution (X-ray crystallograpy and Small Angle X-ray scattering, SAXS), supported by biochemical and biophysical experiments, it was demonstrated that both the murine and human protein share the same conserved molecular architecture and a common and unexpected structural flexibility in solution.

The reported results suggest for the first time the necessity of taking into consideration the molecular plasticity of dystroglycan in solution, since it may play a crucial role in the functional interactions with its binding partners both in a physiological and in a pathological context.


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