Living organisms are dependent on being able to adjust the water content in their cells. This is achieved by regulating the flow of water through the cell membrane. Water is ‘turned on’ and ‘turned off’ by membrane proteins that function as water conduits and are called aquaporins. In the new issue of Nature, Professor Per Kjellbom and Associate Professor Urban Johanson, plant biochemists at Lund University, Sweden, describe how this takes place. The discovery is not only a breakthrough for pure science. It may also pave the way for a new type of drug and for new cosmetic products.
Peter Agre discovered the first aquaporin in 1992 in red blood cells and was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize. Since then, 13 variants of aquaporin have been found in animals and humans and 35 in plants. There are thousands of these aquaporins in every cell membrane. Aquaporins contain a conduit that is so tiny that only a single water molecule at a time can pass through it. But this traffic can be lively indeed. In one second, several billion water molecules can get through. The direction of this water flow is contingent on the osmotic pressure. The water moves in a direction away from a low and toward a high concentration of salt and nutritional substances. But the conduit isn’t always open. The Lund scientists have found out how it opens and closes. This was done in collaboration with a team at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden, under the direction of Richard Neutze, and with Emad Tajkhorshid at the University of Illinois.
“We have used yeast fungi to produce aquaporins,” says Per Kjellbom. With our method we can produce sufficient amounts of pure aquaporins to obtain the crystals needed for our analyses. It turns out that with the technology we used to crystallize aquaporins they were in the closed position. Previously it had only been possible to produce open aquaporins. This gave us an opportunity to compare open and closed aquaporins and to understand how this opening and closing works at the molecular level.
Göran Frankel | alfa
NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology
07.12.2016 | Nanyang Technological University
How to turn white fat brown
07.12.2016 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine