Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Looking for the heartbeat of cellular networks

18.12.2009
Optical approach measures molecular kinetics in living cells

Our cells' molecules form an intricate network of interactions. Today's techniques, however, can only be used to measure individual molecular reactions outside the cells. Since molecular concentrations are much higher in cells than in the laboratory, scientists suspect that the kinetics of molecular reactions in living cells differ substantially from external probes.

„We expected the cellular reaction speed to be higher," confirms LMU biophysicist Professor Dieter Braun. "However, our novel optical approach showed that – depending on the length of the strands – the coupling of DNA-strands inside living cells can be both faster and slower than outside."

Data yielded from living cells are highly valuable for the development of models to understand the complex interactions as well as pathological processes in biological cells. Braun and his team now plan to probe a variety of molecular reactions in living cells, visualizing the heartbeat of cellular networks. (PNAS online, 14 November 2009)

In their work, the scientists investigated the hybridization – the coupling and de-coupling – of two DNA-strands, which they introduced into living cells. To determine the reaction time constant they used an infrared laser to induce temperature oscillations of different frequencies in the cell and measured the concentration of the reaction partners, namely of coupled and de-coupled DNA. At low frequencies, these concentrations followed the temperature oscillations, whereas at higher frequencies they experienced a phase delay and oscillated with diminished amplitude. Both delay time and amplitude decrease, were evaluated to obtain the reaction time constant.

The team determined the concentrations using the so-called fluorescent energy transfer (FRET), which takes place between two chromophores at a certain spatial distance. They applied a FRET pair to the DNA-strands such that energy transfer occurred only if the strands were coupled. The chromophores were excited with a stroboscopic lamp and a CCD camera registered time and amplitude of the fluorescence, thus visualizing the concentration alterations with a spatial resolution of about 500 nanometres. The experiments revealed that DNA-strands comprising 16 units, the so-called bases, showed a sevenfold higher reaction speed compared to values determined outside living cells.

12-base DNA-strands, on the other hand, reacted times five times slower than outside cells. This is a surprising result, since kinetics of molecular reactions has been assumed to be always faster inside cells, where much higher molecular concentrations prevail. "Apparently cells modulate the reaction speed in a highly selective way," says Braun. "The measurements provide valuable insight into in vivo kinetic data for the systematic analysis of the complexity of biological cells," adds Ingmar Schön, who conducted the demanding experiments. The scientists are now planning to probe a wide variety of molecular reactions in living cells, visualizing the heartbeat of cellular networks. (CR/suwe)

Publication:
"Hybridization Kinetics is Different Inside Cells"
Ingmar Schoen, Hubert Krammer, Dieter Braun
PNAS online, 14 November 2009
Contact:
Prof. Dieter Braun
Systems Biophysics, Center for NanoScience (CeNS) and Cluster of Excellence "Nanosystems Initiative Munich" (NIM), LMU Munich
Phone: +49 (0) 89 / 2180 – 2317
E-Mail: dieter.braun@lmu.de

Professor Dieter Braun | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lmu.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein
24.01.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

nachricht Choreographing the microRNA-target dance
24.01.2017 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>