|Elastin is a rubberlike protein that allows tissues such
as arteries to stretch. Pure elastin is hard and glassy, and it depends
on water from its chemical environment for its rubber-like behavior. As
an artery ages or as disease sets in, the chemistry of the artery wall
changes; we are studying how these changes might affect the elastin. Changing
the chemical environment not only stiffens the elastin, but also increases
its susceptibility to breaking.