A unique breakthrough by researchers at Linköping University in Sweden creates new potential in medicine and biochemistry and at the same time provides a new piece of the puzzle in theories about the origins of life.
Normally, inorganic materials like silica are unwelcome in biological systems, since they disrupt the form and function of proteins.
“We wanted to reverse the thinking and try to design proteins that take on their function only after encountering an inorganic surface,” says Bengt-Harald Jonsson, professor of molecular biotechnology.
He directs the research team that is now presenting its findings in Angewandte Chemie.
The team designed a peptide (a short protein) with a specific distribution of positive charges. The peptide was mixed into a solution of spherical silica particles, about 9 nanometers (billionths of a meter) across. When the peptide was free in the solution it had no structure whatsoever, but when it connected with the negatively charged silica ball it assumed the form of a helix. The result was a complex of a silica particle and a functional protein.
When the researchers added amino acids to their peptide, the complex took on the properties of a catalyst, a function similar to that of enzymes in living cells.
The method has several possible fields of application:- recognition of organic molecules
“We know that RNA (which plays a decisive role in the transfer of information in cells) can bind with clay particles whose surfaces have negative charges. The probability of peptides with amino acids having formed well-defined structures with the clay at an early stage of development is considerably greater, since they are more diversified than RNA is,” says Bengt-Harald Jonsson.
Åke Hjelm | alfa
New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego
Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering