These spheres may look almost identical, but subtle differences between them revealed a molecular version of the robots from Transformers. Each sphere is a vesicle, a pod that cells use to transport materials between different compartments.
Image credit: EMBL/M.Faini
The images, produced by Marco Faini from John Briggs’ lab at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), in Heidelberg, Germany, are the first high-resolution view of the 3-dimensional structure of such a pod. They show a particular type of vesicle that is encased by a protein called COPI, and whose structure had never been seen before.
Several copies of the COPI protein attach to each other to form a coat around the vesicle’s membrane. Briggs and colleagues were surprised to find that the COPI building blocks are capable of a ‘transformer’ act: they can change shape to connect to more or fewer copies of themselves. So by changing the shape of individual COPI blocks, the cell could create vesicles of different shapes and sizes, for instance to transport different kinds of cargo.
Previously, scientists had been able to create and determine the structure of ‘cages’ formed by parts of the protein coats that encase other types of vesicles, but this study, published online today in Science, was the first to obtain high-resolution images of complete vesicles, budded from a membrane.
The work was carried out in collaboration with the lab of Felix Wieland at Heidelberg University in Germany.
Published online in Science on 24 May 2012: www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2012/05/23/science.1221443
Sonia Furtado Neves | EMBL Research News
Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel
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...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Life Sciences
27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences