Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Polymer passage takes time

30.07.2010
New theory aids researchers studying DNA, protein transport

Polymer strands wriggle their way through nanometer-sized pores in a membrane to get from here to there and do their jobs. New theoretical research by Rice University scientists quantifies precisely how long the journey takes.

That's a good thing to know for scientists studying the transport of RNA, DNA and proteins -- all of which count as polymers -- or those who are developing membranes for use in biosensors or as drug-delivery devices.

Researchers led by Anatoly Kolomeisky, an associate professor of chemistry and of chemical and biomolecular engineering, have come up with a theoretical method to calculate the time it takes for long-chain polymers to translocate through nano-sized channels in membranes, like the one that separates the nucleus of a cell from surrounding cytoplasm. RNA molecules have to make this intracellular trip, as do proteins that pass through a cell's exterior membrane to perform tasks in the body.

Primary author Kolomeisky reported the findings this month in the Journal of Chemical Physics. Study co-authors include Aruna Mohan, a former postdoctoral research associate at Rice and now a researcher at Exxon-Mobil, and Matteo Pasquali, professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry.

The team studied the translocation of a long polymer molecule, which roughly resembles beads on a string, through two types of nanopore geometries: a cylinder and a two-cylinder composite that resembled a large tube connected to a small tube. Not surprisingly, they found a polymer passed more quickly when entering the composite through the wide end.

"We assume the polymer is relatively large in comparison with the size of the pore, which is realistic," Kolomeisky said of the process, which is akin to threading a rope through a peephole. "A typical strand of DNA could be a thousand nanometers long, and the pore could have a length of a few nanometers."

It's been known for some time that polymers don't just fly through a pore, even when they find the opening. They start. They stop. They start again. And once the leading end has entered a pore, it can back out. Polymers often jitter backward and forward as they progress through a pore, constantly reconfiguring themselves.

"Previous theorists thought that as soon as the leading end reached the channel, the whole polymer would go through," he said. "We're saying it goes back and forth many times before it finally passes."

The key to an accurate description of polymer translocation with single-molecule precision is measuring electric currents that go through the pore. "When the current is high, there's no polymer in the channel. When the current is down, it's in the pore and blocking the flux," he said.

Experiments indicate typical DNA and RNA molecules could pass through a membrane in a few milliseconds, depending on the strength of the electric field driving them. But even that, he said, is much longer than researchers previously thought.

Kolomeisky said the new method works for pores of any geometry, whether they're straight, conical or made of joined cylinders of different sizes, like the hemolysin biological channel they simulated in their research.

The calculations apply equally to natural or artificial pores, which he said would be important to scientists making membranes for drug delivery, biosensors or water purification processes, or researching new methods for sequencing DNA.

Grants from the Welch Foundation and the National Science Foundation supported the research.

Read the abstract at: http://jcp.aip.org/jcpsa6/v133/i2/p024902_s1

Jade Boyd | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rice.edu
http://jcp.aip.org/jcpsa6/v133/i2/p024902_s1

Further reports about: DNA Foundation Polymere RNA RNA molecule biomolecular engineering

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins
12.11.2018 | Technische Universität Berlin

nachricht How to produce fluorescent nanoparticles for medical applications in a nuclear reactor
09.11.2018 | Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

Im Focus: Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...

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

In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins

12.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

A two-atom quantum duet

12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>