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Perspective

The achievements by Deisenhofer, Huber and Michel that were recognized with the 1988 Nobel Prize in chemistry signify breakthroughs in several fields of research:

Photosynthesis:
 The knowledge about the location of the photochemically active groups in the reaction center has resulted in a deeper understanding of the mechanism of the primary reaction in photosynthetic organisms.
 The structural analogies with plants will facilitate the development of new, selective herbicides which affect the function of the reaction center.

Electron transport:
 For the first time it is shown how the electron-carrying groups are organized spatially in a biological system. This gives a possibility to investigate current theories of electron transfer.

The structure of membrane proteins:
 One will now be able to make better predictions of the structures of other membrane proteins from their amino acid sequence.

Crystallization of membrane proteins:
 Michel's crystallization method can be applied to other membrane proteins.

Membrane proteins participate in many important biological processes:
 Ion pumps and channels regulate the ionic balance of the cell and participate in biological energy conversions, signal transmission in the nervous system and in muscle activity.
 Carriers of substances into and out of the cell.
 Cell surface receptors for hormones and signal substances. Confer cell identity and participate in immunological reactions.
 Convert light to nerve signals in the eye.



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