Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries

19.06.2018

Researchers at the University of Basel’s Biozentrum have developed a method for tracing the movement of proteins within the cell. They tagged proteins with tiny nanosensors, so-called nanobodies, which enable the scientists to live track and trace the proteins' pathway through the cell. The method described in the current issue of PNAS is suitable for a wide range of research purposes.

Membrane proteins are a basic component of each individual cell of the human body and play a vital role in the cell’s structure, metabolism and transport. They ensure that many substances, such as hormones and other proteins, are transported from the cell surface into the cell or carried out again.


Nanobodies track receptors from the cell surface to the center of the cell (the Golgi apparatus). Right: electron microscope image.

Image: University of Basel, Biozentrum

It is quite easy to determine the distribution of membrane proteins in the cell. Tracking the paths that they take within the cell and identifying their intended destination is considerably more difficult. The new nanobody tool, developed by the Spiess research group at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, makes it possible to observe the movement of proteins into and out of the cell. In the future, this quantitative method can also be applied to elucidate the molecular transport mechanisms inside the cells.

Tiny antibodies as nanosensors

The researchers used so-called nanobodies, tiny antibody fragments. These consist solely of a single protein chain and so, in contrast to antibodies that are composed of four proteins, they have the advantage to be only about one-tenth of the size, very compact and stable. “Nanobodies were originally obtained from camels and llamas. We altered the nanobodies, so that we could produce them with the help of bacteria and use them as nanosensors,” says Professor Martin Spiess.

Nano tags enable live tracking

The nanobodies can be genetically altered to fluoresce. “We attach them like a tag to the targeted protein, where they remain fastened no matter which path the protein takes to enter the cell,” explains Dominik Buser, a postdoc in Martin Spiess’s lab and the first author of the study. Using a microscope, the path of entry and distribution of surface proteins can be observed in living cells.

“The nanosensor with its fluorescent dye makes the exact movements of the proteins visible. This enables us to follow the natural pathways taken by the proteins into the cell, as well as the speed of transport within the cell.” Furthermore, the researchers altered the nanobodies, in a way that the proteins could be localized in the cell by the electron microscope.

In the future, the research team plans to apply this new method to track and trace various proteins and to more closely study their transport pathways.

Original source

Dominik Buser, Kai Schleicher, Cristina Prescianotto-Baschong, Martin Spiess
Versatile nanobody-based toolkit to analyze retrograde transport from the cell surface
PNAS (2018), doi: 10.1073/pnas.1801865115

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Martin Spiess, University of Basel, Biozentrum, tel. +41 61 207 21 64, email: martin.spiess@unibas.ch

Heike Sacher, University of Basel, Communications Biozentrum, tel. +41 61 207 14 49, email: heike.sacher@unibas.ch

Heike Sacher | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tracing the evolution of vision
23.08.2019 | University of Göttingen

nachricht Caffeine does not influence stingless bees
23.08.2019 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Hamburg and Kiel researchers observe spontaneous occurrence of skyrmions in atomically thin cobalt films

Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.

The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...

Im Focus: Physicists create world's smallest engine

Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.

Im Focus: Quantum computers to become portable

Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.

Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making small intestine endoscopy faster with a pill-sized high-tech camera

23.08.2019 | Medical Engineering

More reliable operation offshore wind farms

23.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tracing the evolution of vision

23.08.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>