The Nature of Proteins in Membranes

  • R. J. P. Williams
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 91)


The first part of this article concerns a central theme which I have been pursuing for many years. It is the demonstration that the secret of biological systems rests in the connection

Chemical Composition → Structure → Mobility → Function

It has been usual to omit mobility but this is, in my view, a mistake. We then need to uncover four different features of a protein
  1. (1)

    By analysis: its composition and sequence.

  2. (2)

    By X-ray diffraction: its structure in a particular trapped state in a crystal. The dynamics of the structure in the crystal can add some useful knowledge, but relatively little because of the short time constants observed (10−12sec).

  3. (3)

    The mobility of the structure in solution as determined by NMR largely but with help from many spectroscopic tools. In essence this says that X-ray structures are unlikely to provide a unique answer to the states (plural) available to the protein.

  4. (4)

    Function implies that there may be states not open to direct inspection under (2) and (3) but which may be inferred from (2) and (3) plus a knowledge of the activity of the protein.



Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Fast Electron Transfer Short Time Constant Helical Protein Single Helix 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. P. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Inorganic Chemistry LaboratoryUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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