Water 'integral to functional structure of proteins,' scientists say

Water has two structures because the state of the hydrogen bonds are different. This might explain how life on early earth evolved and explain how proteins form.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

You probably already know that water is a liquid at room temperature and that it is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

But there's more to water than what meets the eye. It does more than just quench our thirst. In our bodies, it actually plays a huge role in the structure of proteins.

For the first time, scientists used computer models to show that water exists as two different structures. (The picture of the right shows the different states of the hydrogen bonds found in water molecules).

European researchers decided to make a computer model of water, in the same way they'd map the spread of infectious viruses.

When they did, the researchers found two structures. One was loose and blob-like. The other was tight and more crystal-like.

But the water didn't stay like that. Instantly, the structures could morph into the other one. So the scientists think the different structures help atoms like carbon stick to it, which in turn help build complex organic molecules.

Physicist Peter Hamm of the University of Zürich in Switzerland said to Science: "It is becoming clearer and clearer [that] water is more than just a solvent, but actually an integral part of the functional structure of proteins."

However, it will take much more time to fully understand water.

Science magazine asked back in 2005:

What is the structure of water?

And provided this answer:

Researchers continue to tussle over how many bonds each H2O molecule makes with its nearest neighbors.

Photo: Credit: Rao et al./The Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2010)

via Science

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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