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Visualization of protein structure

Structure and Function of Proteins in the Origins of Life

One NASA goal is to understand the beginnings of life on Earth or elsewhere in the universe. Large-scale computer simulations are used to investigate the emergence of functional proteins essential for the origin of life. Shown here is an artificial nucleotide binding protein from a molecular dynamics simulation. An adenosine di-phosphate ligand (ball-and-sticks) is bound to the protein, which serves as a model for how ancient proteins can acquire new functionality through mutations.

Credit: Research by Michael A. Wilson, University of California, San Francisco.

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