Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Liquid or solid? Charged nanoparticles in lipid membrane decide

11.11.2008
Like water and ice cubes mixed in a glass, a group of organic compounds called lipids can coexist as liquid and solid in membranes. This patchiness in phospholipid membranes is fundamental to their use as biomolecules and biosensors.

Using charged nanoparticles, researchers at the University of Illinois have found a new way to stimulate patchiness in phospholipid membranes.

"We are seeing a previously unsuspected responsiveness in phospholipid membranes," said Steve Granick, a Founder Professor of Engineering at the U. of I. "What we thought was possible only with the specificity of certain proteins, we now see can happen with simple, charged nanoparticles."

Lipids are the building blocks of cell membranes. In earlier work, Granick and graduate student Liangfang Zhang found a way to stabilize sensitive lipid membranes by attaching charged nanoparticles to the membrane surface.

Now, Granick, Zhang, graduate research assistant Bo Wang and research scientist Sung Chul Bae show that a phospholipid membrane can coexist in two phases – solid and liquid – according to what binds to it. This inherent patchiness presents an additional mechanism for changing the stiffness of phospholipid membranes.

The researchers report their work in a paper to be published next week in the Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Using fluorescence and calorimetry methods, the researchers studied interactions between charged nanoparticles and membranes formed from single-component lipids. Because the membrane was composed of one sole lipid type, the traditional explanation for spatial patchiness – an uneven distribution of different lipids – was eliminated.

While a variety of nanoparticles was used, the most common type was polystyrene spheres about 20 nanometers in diameter (a nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter). Where the nanoparticles attached to the membrane, the membrane responded by changing phase.

"The electric charge acted as a switch," Granick said. "Nanoparticles with a negative charge switched membranes from liquid to solid. Nanoparticles with a positive charge switched the membranes from solid to liquid."

Phase changes occurred in patches of membranes where phospholipid molecules swiveled after binding to charged nanoparticles. This binding-induced behavior, where the same lipid can coexist in two different phases, offers a new mechanism for modulating stiffness in membranes.

In future work, the researchers plan to study the effects of smaller, charged nanoparticles; the effects of charged nanoparticles on living cells; and novel ways to stabilize lipid membranes for targeted drug delivery.

"These experiments are helping us better understand both the structure of phospholipid membranes and the potential biological effects of exposure to nanoparticles found in our normal, everyday environment," Granick said.

James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>