Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanoshuttle Wear and Tear: It’s the Mileage, Not the Age

27.01.2015

As nanomachine design rapidly advances, researchers are moving from wondering if the nanomachine works to how long it will work.

This is an especially important question as there are so many potential applications, for instance, for medical uses, including drug delivery, early diagnosis, disease monitoring, instrumentation, and surgery.


Coneyl Jayasinhe for Columbia Engineering

Molecular shuttles are a nanoscale transport system in which microtubules (acting as cargo carriers) are propelled by surface-adhered kinesin motor proteins. Researchers have found that as the microtubules are propelled by the kinesin motors, tubulin subunits are removed from the leading end.

In a new study led by Henry Hess, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, researchers observed a molecular shuttle powered by kinesin motor proteins and found it to degrade when operating, marking the first time, they say, that degradation has been studied in detail in an active, autonomous nanomachine.

“Our nanoshuttle degraded just like a car that falls apart after a few hundred thousand miles of driving—except that, for our molecular shuttle, the equivalent to a hundred thousand miles turns out to be a millimeter,” says Hess, who collaborated on the study with his former student Emmanuel Dumont PhD’14, now an Innovation Fellow at Cornell Technion, and Catherine Do, postdoctoral research scientist in the Institute for Cancer Genetics at Columbia University Medical Center. The paper—“Molecular wear of microtubules propelled by surface-adhered kinesins”—is published January 26 in Nature Nanotechnology's Advance Online Publication.

Researchers are already working towards creating artificial muscles and other active materials, and, in order to make useful, practical systems, it is critical that they understand how to make the systems last. “What this means,” Hess explains, “is that as we try to understand the design of biological nanomachines operating inside cells and then as we try to invent new synthetic nanomachines, we have to be mindful of their lifetime and make them either last or make them able to renew themselves.”

Biomolecular systems can undergo a range of active movements at the nanoscale that are enabled by the transduction of chemical energy into mechanical work by polymerization processes and motor proteins. Hess and his team used an in vitro system to study nanoscale movement and its consequences and discovered that the mechanical activity of biomolecular motors causes wear at the molecular scale similar to the wearing out of a running car engine.

In humans, biomolecular motors are also responsible for the contraction of muscles and the delivery of packages inside cells, and, to prevent aging and disease, these process have to run smoothly for a lifetime. Biological mechanisms such as the continuous replacement of molecular parts have evolved to prevent the rapid degradation of the body’s nanomachines.

“Our study has shown that wear is an important issue which has to be considered in the design of nanomachines,” Hess adds. “And it’s clear that a better understanding of nanoengineering will help us to better understand aging and degeneration in biological systems.”

This study is supported by the National Science Foundation and facilitated by the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Sandia National Labs, a DOE-supported user facility.

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Contact Information
Holly Evarts
Director of Strategic Communications and Media Rel
holly.evarts@columbia.edu
Phone: 212-854-3206
Mobile: 347-453-7408

Holly Evarts | newswise

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Microscope measures muscle weakness
16.11.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Good preparation is half the digestion
16.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>