Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nano mechanism to control protein may lead to new protein engineering

16.02.2005


UCLA scientists have created a mechanism at the nanoscale to externally control the function and action of a protein.



"We can switch a protein on and off, and while we have controlled a specific protein, we believe our approach will work with virtually any protein," said Giovanni Zocchi, assistant professor of physics at UCLA, member of the California NanoSystems Institute and leader of the research effort. "This research has the potential to start a new approach to protein engineering."

The research, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, potentially could lead to a new generation of targeted "smart" pharmaceutical drugs that are active only in cells where a certain gene is expressed, or a certain DNA sequence is present, Zocchi said. Such drugs would have reduced side effects. The research, federally funded by the National Science Foundation, also may lead to a deeper understanding of proteins’ molecular architecture.


Proteins are switched on and off in living cells by a mechanism called allosteric control; proteins are regulated by other molecules that bind to their surface, inducing a change of conformation, or distortion in the shape, of the protein, making the protein either active or inactive, Zocchi explained. "We have made an artificial mechanism of allosteric control based on mechanical tension -- the first time this has ever been done," Zocchi said. "Potentially, the applications could be very far-reaching and beneficial if the research continues to progress well.

"We insert a molecular spring on the protein, and we can control the stiffness of the spring externally," he said. "We chemically string a short piece of DNA around the protein. We can switch the protein on and off by changing the stiffness of the DNA. We have made a new molecule, which we can control. By gluing together two disparate pieces of the cell’s molecular machinery, a protein and a piece of DNA, we have created a spring-loaded protein which can be turned on and off."

Zocchi’s graduate student, Brian Choi, worked with a transport protein called MBP (maltose binding protein), expressed in a bacterium. The MBP protein binds and transports a sugar.

The first applications Zocchi foresees for the new molecules are as amplified molecular probes. Currently it is difficult for scientists to study a single live cell and find what gene it is expressing, but with an amplified molecular probe, in principle one could inject the probe into a single cell and detect that the cell is expressing a particular gene, Zocchi said.

An amplified molecular probe would make it possible to study the individuality of cells, with applications in stem cell research and the early detection of disease, said Zocchi, whose laboratory was established in part through start-up funding from UCLA’s Division of Physical Sciences. "I’m interested in conformational changes of macromolecules, and in understanding the physical basis of this allosteric mechanism, which is central to the regulation in the cell," Zocchi said.

Harlan Lebo | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>