Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New way to look at cell membranes could change the way we study disease

19.11.2018

Researchers have developed a new technique to analyse cell membrane proteins in situ which could revolutionise the way in which we study diseases, such as cancer, metabolic and heart diseases.

The discovery was made as part of an international research collaboration, led by Oxford University, alongside peers including Imperial College London. The technique could dramatically affect our understanding of both how cell membrane complexes work, and in the process, our approach to healthcare research.


A new technique to analyse cell membrane proteins in situ which could revolutionise the way in which we study diseases, such as cancer, metabolic and heart diseases.

Image credit: OU

Membranes protect all of our cells and the organelles inside them, including the mitochondria - the powerhouse of the cell. These membranes are studded with biological machinery made of proteins that enable molecular cargo to pass in and out.

This research, published in Science, will enable the development of mass spectrometry (a tool used to analyse the make-up of matter) in biology to be taken to a new level, enabling new discoveries that would not have been possible before.

Studying these membrane-embedded machines in their native state is crucial to understanding mechanisms of disease and providing new goals for treatments. However, current methods for studying them involve removing them from the membrane, which can alter their structure and functional properties.

Lead researcher Professor Dame Carol Robinson, Professor of Physical Chemistry at Oxford's Department of Chemistry, said: 'For decades, scientists have had to extract these proteins from their membranes for their studies. But imagine what you might discover if you could get proteins straight from the membrane into a mass spectrometer?

'I wasn't sure this would ever work; I thought the membrane environment would be just too complicated and we wouldn't be able to understand the results. I am delighted that it has because it has given us a whole new view of an important class of drug targets.'

The technique involves vibrating the sample at ultrasonic frequencies so that the cell begins to fall apart. Electrical currents then applied an electric field to eject the protein machines out of the membrane and directly into a mass spectrometer - an instrument that can detect a molecule's chemical 'signature', based on its mass.

Not only did the membrane protein machines survive the ejection; the analysis also revealed how they communicate with each other, are guided to their final location and transport their molecular cargo into the cell.

Professor Steve Matthews, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: 'With the development of this method, the application of mass spectrometry in biology will be taken to a new level, using it to make discoveries that would not have been possible before.'

Dr Sarah Rouse, also from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: 'A longstanding question on the structure of one membrane machine from mitochondria has now been solved using this technique. Mitochondria are particularly interesting because there are several diseases that target them specifically, that we may now be able to design new therapies for.'

Of the study's potential impact Professor Dame Robinson added: "The results are particularly exciting for mitochondrial membranes--we managed to catch a translocator in action--passing metabolites. Because mitochondrial therapeutics target a wide range of debilitating diseases, we now have a new way of assessing their effects.'

###

Notes to editors

The full paper citation is:

Protein assemblies ejected directly from native membranes yield complexes for mass spectrometry Dror S. Chorev1 , Lindsay A. Baker2 , Di Wu1 , Victoria Beilsten-Edmands1 , Sarah L. Rouse3 , Tzviya Zeev-Ben-Mordehai2 *, Chimari Jiko4 , Firdaus Samsudin5 , Christoph Gerle6,7, Syma Khalid5 , Alastair G. Stewart8,9, Stephen J. Matthews3 , Kay Grünewald2,10, Carol V. Robinson1 †

Link to the paper:

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/362/6416/829.full.pdf

For further information please contact Lanisha Butterfield, Media Relations Manager on 01865 280531 or email lanisha.butterfield@admin.ox.ac.uk

Media Contact

Lanisha Butterfield
lanisha.butterfield@admin.ox.ac.uk
01-865-280-531

 @UniofOxford

http://www.ox.ac.uk/ 

Lanisha Butterfield | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea
10.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique
10.12.2018 | Carnegie Mellon University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>