Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanoscale Velcro used for Molecule Transport

25.06.2014

Biological membranes are like a guarded border. They separate the cell from the environment and at the same time control the import and export of molecules.

The nuclear membrane can be crossed via many tiny pores. Scientists at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel, together with an international team of researchers, have discovered that proteins found within the nuclear pore function similar to a velcro. In “Nature Nanotechnology”, they report how these proteins can be used for controlled and selective transport of particles.


Import protein coated molecule moving on the “dirty velcro”.

(Illustration: University of Basel)

There is much traffic in our cells. Many proteins, for example, need to travel from their production site in the cytoplasm to the nucleus, where they are used to read genetic information. Pores in the nuclear membrane enable their transport into and out of the cell nucleus.

The Argovia Professor Roderick Lim, from the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel, studies the biophysical basics of this transport. In order to better understand this process, he has created an artificial model of the nuclear pore complex, together with scientists from Lausanne and Cambridge, which has led to the discovery that its proteins function like a nanoscale “velcro” which can be used to transport tiniest particles.

“Dirty velcro” inside the nuclear pore

Nuclear pores are protein complexes within the nuclear membrane that enables molecular exchange between the cytoplasm and nucleus. The driving force is diffusion. Nuclear pores are lined with “velcro” like proteins. Only molecules specially marked with import proteins can bind to these proteins and thus pass the pore. But for all non-binding molecules the nuclear pore acts as a barrier.

The researchers postulated that transport depends on the strength of binding to the “velcro” like proteins. The binding should be just strong enough that molecules to be transported can bind but at the same time not too tight so that they can still diffuse through the pore.

In an artificial system recreating the nuclear pore, the researchers tested their hypothesis. They coated particles with import proteins and studied their behavior on the molecular “velcro”. Interestingly, the researchers found parallels in behavior to the velcro strip as we know it.

On “clean velcro”, the particles stick immediately. However, when the “velcro” is filled or “dirtied” with import proteins, it is less adhesive and the particles begin to slide over its surface just by diffusion. “Understanding how the transport process functions in the nuclear pore complex was decisive for our discovery,” says Lim. “With the nanoscale ‘velcro’ we should be able to define the path to be taken as well as speed up the transport of selected particles without requiring external energy.”

Potential lab-on-a-chip technology applications

Lim's investigations of biomolecular transport processes form the basis for the discovery of this remarkable phenomenon that particles can be transported selectively with a molecular “velcro”. “This principle could find very practical applications, for instance as nanoscale conveyor belts, escalators or tracks,” explains Lim. This could also potentially be applied to further miniaturize lab-on-chip technology, tiny labs on chips, where this newly discovered method of transportation would make today's complex pump and valve systems obsolete.

Original source
Kai D. Schleicher, Simon L. Dettmer, Larisa E. Kapinos, Stefan Pagliara, Ulrich F. Keyser, Sylvia Jeney and Roderick Y.H. Lim
Selective Transport Control on Molecular Velcro made from Intrinsically Disordered Proteins
Nature Nanotechnology; published online 15 June 2014 | doi: 10.1038/nnano.2014.103

Further information
Prof. Dr. Roderick Lim, University of Basel, Biozentrum, and Swiss Nanoscience Institute, phone: +41 61 267 20 83, email: roderick.lim@unibas.ch

Weitere Informationen:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2014.103 - Abstract

Katrin Bühler | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch

Further reports about: Molecule Nanoscience Nanotechnology artificial cytoplasm found nanoscale particles pores proteins tiny velcro

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

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

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>