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A giant toadstool that swallows up vitamins and nutrients in the intestines and kidneys: This is how one receptor that absorbs B12 vitamins in the small intestine looks. For the first time, researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, have an insight into an as-yet unknown biology which has persisted for hundreds of millions of years of evolution.
"What we're looking at is evolution at a structural level. A receptor with a toadstool structure that stems from way back to the common ancestors of insects and humans," says Associate Professor Christian Brix Folsted Andersen from the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University in Denmark.
Vitamin - B12 - Vitamin - Diet - Turn
Vitamin B12 is the vitamin that humans most often lack, even with a healthy diet, which in turn can lead to serious anaemic diseases and symptoms from the central nervous system. With his research group, Andersen has now described the body's largest cell receptor: An ancient, previously unknown construction that was created by the merger of two proteins, and which, for reasons scientists do not yet understand, is preserved as a colossal structure in molecular terms.
In the 1960s, scientist Dorothy Hodgkin received the Nobel Prize for her scientific breakthrough in determining the structure of the B12 vitamin. Now, Andersen and colleagues report this receptor structure more than 1000 times larger, which enables B12 to be absorbed in the body. The research results have been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, and shed light on the issue of faulty vitamin B12 absorption and the loss of nutrients in the kidneys.
Help - Crystallography - Receptor - Way - Biology
"With the help of X-ray crystallography, we've succeeded in determining how the receptor is able to organise itself in a previously unknown way in human biology. With this new knowledge, we're finally able to explain why thousands of people around the world with specific genetic changes are unable to absorb the...
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