A unique breakthrough by researchers at Linköping University in Sweden creates new potential in medicine and biochemistry and at the same time provides a new piece of the puzzle in theories about the origins of life.
Normally, inorganic materials like silica are unwelcome in biological systems, since they disrupt the form and function of proteins.
“We wanted to reverse the thinking and try to design proteins that take on their function only after encountering an inorganic surface,” says Bengt-Harald Jonsson, professor of molecular biotechnology.
He directs the research team that is now presenting its findings in Angewandte Chemie.
The team designed a peptide (a short protein) with a specific distribution of positive charges. The peptide was mixed into a solution of spherical silica particles, about 9 nanometers (billionths of a meter) across. When the peptide was free in the solution it had no structure whatsoever, but when it connected with the negatively charged silica ball it assumed the form of a helix. The result was a complex of a silica particle and a functional protein.
When the researchers added amino acids to their peptide, the complex took on the properties of a catalyst, a function similar to that of enzymes in living cells.
The method has several possible fields of application:- recognition of organic molecules
“We know that RNA (which plays a decisive role in the transfer of information in cells) can bind with clay particles whose surfaces have negative charges. The probability of peptides with amino acids having formed well-defined structures with the clay at an early stage of development is considerably greater, since they are more diversified than RNA is,” says Bengt-Harald Jonsson.
Åke Hjelm | alfa
Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells
12.12.2018 | Universität Basel
Smelling the forest – not the trees
12.12.2018 | Universität Konstanz
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
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...
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...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine
12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine