Inside the cell, the oxygen and nourishment are transformed into energy and carbon dioxide, which we breathe out. In a new dissertation from Stockholm University in Sweden, Kristina Faxén has mapped how so-called cell breathing takes place.
"I am studying how cells breathe. In recent years, more and more diseases, like Alzheimer's, have shown to have to do with cell respiration. The findings are expected ultimately to lead to drugs specifically designed for various disorders, although that's far down the road," says Kristina Faxén, a doctoral candidate at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Stockholm University in Sweden.
Every cell contains many tiny energy power plants - the mitochondria. The enzymes that govern cell breathing are located in membranes that surround the mitochondria. Kristina Faxén has analyzed one of these enzymes-cytochromoxidase. This is a pump that distributes positive and negative charges to opposite sides of the membrane, thereby functioning roughly like a battery charger that helps to "charge our inner batteries." These batteries power all bodily functions, such as our muscles, brain, and digestion.
"To study this 'battery charger' my colleagues and I have managed to construct artificial cells consisting of a globe-shaped membrane, something like a soap bubble, but only 30 nanometers (millionths of a millimeter) in diameter. Then we introduced cytochromoxidase to the membrane. In this way, it can function just as in a living cell," she says.
One thing that makes the reaction difficult to study is how quickly it happens. A single 'breath' in the cell takes only a thousandth of a second. The laboratory at Stockholm University is one of the few in the world that possesses the advanced laser technology needed to study such rapid processes.
"Several research teams around the world have studied molecular pumps, trying to understand how they work. But there has been no unanimity about any general mechanism. Our findings have solved some of the conflicts. Previously we presented an extremely simple and general principle for the functioning of the pumps that shows how a swinging arm fetches positive charges, protons, on one side of the membrane and leaves them on the other side. The findings of my dissertation support this model," says Kristina Faxén.
Link to posting of dissertation information: http://www.diva-portal.org/su/abstract.xsql?dbid=6806For further information, please contact:
Maria Erlandsson | idw
Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital
Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences