Prof David Parker from Durham University’s Chemistry Department was working with experts from Glasgow University, and a team of international researchers, when they discovered dramatic changes in the way that light was emitted by optical probes during a series of experiments.
Light has energy and carries information and the researchers used the optical probes to measure the behaviour of light and its interaction with proteins abundant in human blood. The fortuitous discovery has led to the creation of a new type of probe for examining protein interactions that could be used for cellular imaging.
By tracking the way in which proteins bind, the experiments will aid understanding of the function of the most abundant protein in the body, serum albumin. In the future the technique could help to understand how drugs used in medicine interact with the major protein found in blood.
Prof Parker says: “It’s a new step in the development of optical probes in chemistry and in observing the interaction between medical drugs and proteins.”
The Durham University-led team looked at how light behaved when serum albumin was added to the probes and found that the emitted polarised light had interesting characteristics.
Chirality, or handedness, is a key concept in Nature. In molecular chemistry, it refers to the concept of a molecule having two mirror images that cannot be superimposed onto each other; these are called enantiomers and pairs of these can be designated as ‘right-‘ and ‘left-handed.’
Light can be thought of as being made up of two left and right handed components and this property can be measured. The research team used optical probes with hi-spatial resolution and precision to track protein interactions and to see how the light rotates and inverts when passed through the proteins.
Prof Parker says: “We have found a way to use the inherent chirality of light to examine the interaction at the molecular level between a probe (the optical probe, itself of one handedness) and serum albumin (also of one handedness: hence akin to a hand/glove interaction) - the most abundant protein in blood.”
Based on a chiral lanthanide complex, the probe emits circularly polarised light that inverts sign on protein binding; monitoring the emitted light allows researchers to follow the interaction between the complex and the protein.
Observing this luminescence is a way of studying the chirality of the system, explains Prof Parker: “The optical signal we observed carries information in its circular polarisation. It’s a tricky process. You have to get the light in and out of the cells but crucially, in terms of biology, it can be done using microscopes in the laboratory so it’s non-invasive.”
The researchers found that only one enantiomer of certain europium and terbium complexes bound selectively to a drug binding site of the protein serum albumin, and that the luminescence changed dramatically. Prof Parker says: “This is the first example of chiral inversion using an emissive probe in this way.”
The researchers have been seeking to develop responsive optical probes for a while and were delighted when they finally cracked it.
Prof Parker said: “We were genuinely surprised. The binding energy and kinetics have to be just right - we've been lucky. Potentially this technology could be used to track protein association in living cells in real time.”
Alex Thomas | alfa
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences