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Conduction in Aquaporins

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Aquaporins are channel proteins abundantly present in all life forms, for example, bacteria, plants, and in the kidneys, the eyes, and the brain of humans. These proteins conduct water and small molecules, but no ions, across the cell walls. Their defective forms are known to cause diseases, e.g., diabetes insipidus, or cataracts. The molecular modeling program, NAMD, along with large parallel computers at the Pittsburgh and Illinois supercomputing centers, permitted researchers now to model aquaporins in the natural environment of membrane and water in one of the largest molecular dynamics simulations ever (over 100,000 atoms). The simulations revealed in unprecedented detail how cells conduct water and glycerol, a molecule that serves cells' metabolism. The simulations provided a movie of the entire conduction process.