Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cellular contamination pathway for plutonium, other heavy elements, identified

27.08.2015

Berkeley Lab scientists find that an iron-binding protein can transport actinides into cells

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have reported a major advance in understanding the biological chemistry of radioactive metals, opening up new avenues of research into strategies for remedial action in the event of possible human exposure to nuclear contaminants.


Crystals formed with the protein siderocalin and curium complexes exhibit bright red luminescence when exposed to UV light.

Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Research led by Berkeley Lab's Rebecca Abergel, working with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, has found that plutonium, americium, and other actinides can be transported into cells by an antibacterial protein called siderocalin, which is normally involved in sequestering iron.

Their results were published online recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in a paper titled, "Siderocalin-mediated recognition, sensitization, and cellular uptake of actinides." The paper contains several other findings and achievements, including characterization of the first ever protein structures containing transuranic elements and how use of the protein can sensitize the metal's luminescence, which could lead to potential medical and industrial applications.

Abergel's group has already developed a compound to sequester actinides and expel them from the body. They have put it in a pill form that can be taken orally, a necessity in the event of radiation exposure amongst a large population. Last year the FDA approved a clinical trial to test the safety of the drug, and they are seeking funding for the tests.

However, a basic understanding of how actinides act in the body was still not well known. "Although [actinides] are known to rapidly circulate and deposit into major organs such as bone, liver, or kidney after contamination, the specific molecular mechanisms associated with mammalian uptake of these toxic heavy elements remain largely unexplored," Abergel and her co-authors wrote.

The current research described in PNAS identifies a new pathway for the intracellular delivery of the radioactive toxic metal ions, and thus a possible new target for treatment strategies. The scientists used cultured kidney cells to demonstrate the role of siderocalin in facilitating the uptake of the metal ions in cells.

"We showed that this protein is capable of transporting plutonium inside cells," she said. "So this could help us develop other strategies to counteract actinide exposure. Instead of binding and expelling radionuclides from the body, we could maybe block the uptake."

The team used crystallography to characterize siderocalin-transuranic actinide complexes, gaining unprecedented insights into the biological coordination of heavy radioelements. The work was performed at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), a Department of Energy synchrotron located at Berkeley Lab.

"These are the first protein structures containing thorium or the transuranic elements plutonium, americium, or curium," Abergel said. "Until this work there was no structure in the Protein Data Bank that had those elements. That's an exciting thing for us."

The researchers also made the unexpected finding that siderocalin can act as a "synergistic antenna" that sensitizes the luminescence of actinides and lanthanides. "We showed that by adding the protein we enhance the sensitization pathways, making it much brighter," Abergel said. "That is a new mechanism that hasn't been explored yet and could be very useful; it could have applications down the line for diagnostics and bioimaging."

Abergel notes that a study like this would have been possible in very few other places. "Very few people have the capabilities to combine the different approaches and techniques--the spectroscopy techniques at the ALS, handling of heavy elements that are radioactive, plus the chemical and biological tools we have onsite," she said. "The combination of all those techniques here is very unique."

###

The work was funded by the Department of Energy's Basic Energy Sciences program in the Office of Science and the National Institutes of Health. The paper's co-authors are Benjamin Allred, Stacey Gauny, Dahlia An, Corie Ralston, and Manuel Sturzbecher-Hoehne of Berkeley Lab, and Roland Strong and Peter Rupert of the Hutchinson Center.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. For more, visit http://www.lbl.gov.

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

Media Contact

Julie Chao
jhchao@lbl.gov
510-486-6491

 @BerkeleyLab

http://www.lbl.gov 

Julie Chao | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Cellular Energy contamination siderocalin strategies structures uptake

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>