“By confining individual proteins in nanodroplets of water, researchers can directly observe the dynamics and structural changes of these biomolecules,” says physicist Lori Goldner, a coauthor of the paper* published in Langmuir.
Researchers recently have turned their attention to the role that crowding plays in the behavior of proteins and other biomolecules—there is not much extra space in a cell. NIST’s nanodroplets can mimic the crowded environment in cells where the proteins live while providing advantages over other techniques to confine or immobilize proteins for study that may interfere with or damage the protein.
This more realistic setting can help researchers study the molecular basis of disease and supply information for developing new pharmaceuticals. For example, misfolded proteins play a role in many illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. By seeing how proteins fold in these nanodroplets, researchers may gain new insight into these ailments and may find new therapies.
The NIST nanodroplet delivery system uses tiny glass micropipettes to create tiny water droplets suspended in an oily fluid for study under a microscope. An applied pressure forces the water solution containing protein test subjects to the tip of the micropipette as it sits immersed in a small drop of oil on the microscope stage. Then, like a magician whipping a tablecloth off a table while leaving the dinnerware behind, an electronic switch causes the pipette to jerk back, leaving behind a small droplet typically less than a micrometer in diameter.
The droplet is held in place with a laser “optical tweezer,” and another laser is used to excite fluorescence from the molecule or molecules in the droplet. In one set of fluorescence experiments, explains Goldner, “The molecules seem unperturbed by their confinement—they do not stick to the walls or leave the container—important facts to know for doing nanochemistry or single-molecule biophysics.” Similar to a previous work (see “‘Micro-boxes’ of Water Used to Study Single Molecules”, Tech Beat July 20, 2006), researchers also demonstrated that single fluorescent protein molecules could be detected inside the droplets.
Fluorescence can reveal the number of molecules within the nanodroplet and can show the motion or structural changes of the confined molecule or molecules, allowing researchers to study how two or more proteins interact. By using only a few molecules and tiny amounts of reagents, the technique also minimizes the need for expensive or toxic chemicals.
* J. Tang, A.M. Jofre, G.M. Lowman, R.B. Kishore, J.E. Reiner, K. Helmerson, L.S. Goldner and M.E. Greene. Green fluorescent protein in inertially injected aqueous nanodroplets. published in Langmuir, ASAP Article, Web release date: March 27, 2008.
Evelyn Brown | EurekAlert!
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