Sarafina has finished her bachelor project with the QBL group, and has now handed in a thesis with the title "Atomistic insights into Cryptochrome inter-protein interactions".
Abstract of the thesis
The mechanism by which birds sense magnetic fields (avian magnetoreception) for use during migration has not yet been fully uncovered. The flavoprotein Cryptochrome (Cry) is currently the accepted protein responsible for this magnetic sense in birds because it fulfills the many criteria, for a magnetosensor, which experiments have uncovered. An interaction partner to Cry, through which it may transmit the magnetic field sensitive signal inside a cell, has not yet been found. The goal of this project is to judge the viability of an interaction between Cry, in the European Robin, and a possible interaction partner, that was suggested by Qin et al. in a recent Nature article. The interaction partner suggested by Qin et al. is an iron sulphur containing assembly protein (ISCA1) complex, which is hypothesized, by Qin et al. to contribute to the magnetic sense by way of a ferromagnetic mechanism in cooperation with the mechanism of Cry. The interaction between Cry and ISCA1 in the European robin is, in this project, studied through classical molecular dynamics simulations for several different docking modes. The analysis of these simulations concludes that the ISCA1 complex and Cry4 are capable of binding, however the distances between charge transfer sites in the two proteins are too large for the interaction between ISCA1 and Cry4 to be relevant for magnetoreception.