Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Use Light To Move Molecules

18.03.2011
Using a light-triggered chemical tool, Johns Hopkins scientists report that they have refined a means of moving individual molecules around inside living cells and sending them to exact locations at precise times.

This new tool, they say, gives scientists greater command than ever in manipulating single molecules, allowing them to see how molecules in certain cell locations can influence cell behavior and to determine whether cells will grow, die, move or divide. A report on the work was published online December 13 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Studying how just one signaling molecule communicates in various parts of a living cell has posed a challenge for scientists investigating how different interactions influence cell behavior, such as the decision to move, change shape or divide.

“By using one magical chemical set off by light, we modified our previous technique for moving molecules around and gained much more control,” says Takanari Inoue, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell biology and member of the Center for Cell Dynamics in the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences. “The advantage of using light is that it is very controllable, and by confining the light, we can manipulate communication of molecules in only a tiny region of the cell,” he says.

Specifically, the Hopkins team designed a way to initiate and spatially restrict the molecular interactions to a small portion of the cell by attaching a light-triggered chemical to a bulky molecule, the bond between which would break when researchers shined a defined beam of ultraviolet light on it. This enabled the chemical to enter the cell and force two different and specific proteins in that cell to mingle when they otherwise wouldn’t. Normally, these proteins would have nothing to do with each other without the presence of the light-triggered chemical, but researchers decided to take advantage of this mingling to explore how certain proteins in a cell behave when transported to precise locations.

Next, researchers modified the two mingling proteins by attaching special molecules to them — one sent one of the proteins to the edge of the cell and another caused ripples to form on the edge of the cell — so that if ripples form on the edge of the cell, they would know that the proteins were interacting there.

The researchers put both modified proteins inside human skin cells and bathed the cells in the light-triggered chemical tool. Then, they shone a tiny UV beam directed on approximately ten percent of the edge of a skin cell. Ripples appeared only on the region of the cell near where the light was beamed, demonstrating that the tool could limit cell activity to a precise location in the cell.

The tool can be used in larger cells, Inoue says, to monitor as little as one percent of a specific molecule if the beam intensity is varied. That in turn could reveal in even more detail the secret affairs of proteins in cellular cubbyholes.

“With this technique, we can get a finer understanding of cell function on the molecular level,” says Inoue. “Our technique allows us to monitor whatever molecule we choose in whichever tiny space we choose so that we can understand how a molecule functions in a specific part of a live cell.”

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and fellowships from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Other authors on this manuscript are Nobuhiro Umeda, Tasuku Ueno and Christopher Pohlmeyer, and Tetsuo Nagano of The University of Tokyo.

On the web:
Takanari Inoue http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/cellbio/dept/InoueProfile.html
Department of Cell Biology http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/cellbio/dept/index.html

Journal of the American Chemical Society http://pubs.acs.org/journal/jacsat

| Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/cellbio/dept/index.html
http://pubs.acs.org/journal/jacsat

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

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...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

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...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>