22 - Structural Characterization of Pulmonary Surfactant Protein-B
University of Florida
After you are born, you must start breathing immediately. In order to breathe the alveoli, tiny sacs within the lungs, must be able to fill up with air at ambient pressure. To do this, they are coated with a substance known as pulmonary surfactant (PS). Without PS, the act of breathing would be too difficult. Ten percent of all prematurely born babies suffer from respiratory distress syndrome because they are born with insufficient PS. The treatment is PS replacement therapy from a bovine source, which allows the babies to breathe normally and stimulates their own production of PS; however, this treatment is very expensive. Pulmonary Surfactant by dry weight is 90% lipid and 10% protein. There are four proteins that make up PS, surfactant protein A, -B, -C, -D (SP-A, SP-B, -SP-C, SP-D). Despite its low abundance in PS, SP-B is critical to its function, without it the individual would die. Understanding the functional structure of SP-B will be a crucial step in understanding its mechanism, and will open the door to creating a synthetic replacement for RDS treatment.