Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > A nanoscale window to the biological world: In situ molecular microscopy provides a gateway to imaging dynamic systems in structural biology

A novel microfluidics platform allowed viewing of structural details of rotavirus double-layered particles; the 3-D graphic of the virus, in purple, was reconstructed from data gathered by the new technique.

Credit: Virginia Tech
A novel microfluidics platform allowed viewing of structural details of rotavirus double-layered particles; the 3-D graphic of the virus, in purple, was reconstructed from data gathered by the new technique.

Credit: Virginia Tech

Abstract:
If the key to winning battles is knowing both your enemy and yourself, then scientists are now well on their way toward becoming the Sun Tzus of medicine by taking a giant step toward a priceless advantage - the ability to see the soldiers in action on the battlefield.

A nanoscale window to the biological world: In situ molecular microscopy provides a gateway to imaging dynamic systems in structural biology

Blacksburg, VA | Posted on December 20th, 2012

Investigators at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have invented a way to directly image biological structures at their most fundamental level and in their natural habitats. The technique is a major advancement toward the ultimate goal of imaging biological processes in action at the atomic level.

"It's sort of like the difference between seeing Han Solo frozen in carbonite and watching him walk around blasting stormtroopers," said Deborah Kelly, an assistant professor at the VTC Research Institute and a lead author on the paper describing the first successful test of the new technique. "Seeing viruses, for example, in action in their natural environment is invaluable."

The technique involves taking two silicon-nitride microchips with windows etched in their centers and pressing them together until only a 150-nanometer space between them remains. The researchers then fill this pocket with a liquid resembling the natural environment of the biological structure to be imaged, creating a microfluidic chamber.

Then, because free-floating structures yield images with poor resolution, the researchers coat the microchip's interior surface with a layer of natural biological tethers, such as antibodies, which naturally grab onto a virus and hold it in place.

In a recent study in Lab on a Chip, Kelly joined Sarah McDonald, also an assistant professor at the VTC Research Institute, to prove that the technique works.

McDonald provided a pure sample of rotavirus double-layered particles for the study.

"What's missing in the field of structural biology right now is dynamics - how things move in time," said McDonald. "Debbie is developing technologies to bridge that gap, because that's clearly the next big breakthrough that structural biology needs."

Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infants and children. By the age of 5, nearly every child in the world has been infected at least once. And although the disease tends to be easily managed in the developed world, in developing countries rotavirus kills more than 450,000 children a year.

At the second step in the pathogen's life cycle, rotavirus sheds its outer layer, which allows it to enter a cell, and becomes what is called a double-layered particle. Once its second layer is exposed, the virus is ready to begin using the cell's own infrastructure to produce more viruses. It was the viral structure at this stage that the researchers imaged in the new study.

Kelly and McDonald coated the interior window of the microchip with antibodies to the virus. The antibodies, in turn, latched onto the rotaviruses that were injected into the microfluidic chamber and held them in place. The researchers then used a transmission electron microscope to image the prepared slide.

The technique worked perfectly.

The experiment gave results that resembled those achieved using traditional freezing methods to prepare rotavirus for electron microscopy, proving that the new technique can deliver accurate results.

"It's the first time scientists have imaged anything on this scale in liquid," said Kelly.

The next step is to continue to develop the technique with an eye toward imaging biological structures dynamically in action.

Specifically, McDonald is looking to understand how rotavirus assembles, so as to better know and develop tools to combat this particular enemy of children's health.

The researchers said their ongoing collaboration is an example of the cross-disciplinary work that is becoming a hallmark of the VTC Research Institute.

"It's an ideal collaboration because Sarah provides a phenomenal model system by which we can develop new technologies to move the field of microstructural biology forward," said Kelly.

"It's very win-win," McDonald added. "While the virus is a great tool for Debbie to develop her techniques, her technology is critical for allowing me to understand how this deadly virus assembles and changes dynamically over time."

The paper "Visualizing viral assemblies in a nanoscale biosphere" was published online and will appear in a 2013 edition of Lab on a Chip.

The authors are Brian Gilmore, a research associate at the VTC Research Institute; Shannon Showalter, a research assistant at the VTC Research Institute; Madeline Dukes, an applications scientist at Protochips; Justin Tanner, a postdoctoral associate at the VTC Research Institute; Andrew Demmert, a student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; McDonald, in addition to her position at the VTC Research Institute, is an assistant professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine; and Kelly, in addition to her position at the VTC Research Institute, is an assistant professor of biological sciences in Virginia Tech's College of Science.

This article was written by Ken Kingery.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Paula Byron

540-526-2027

Copyright © Virginia Tech

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Tissue regeneration using anti-inflammatory nanomolecules August 22nd, 2014

A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy August 22nd, 2014

Imaging

A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy August 22nd, 2014

Wyatt Technology’s 24th International Light Scattering Colloquium to Highlight Developments in Applications and Characterization of Nanoparticles August 21st, 2014

Ultra-short pulse lasers & Positioning August 21st, 2014

Lab-on-a-chip

Iranian Scientists Stabilize Protein on Highly Stable Electrode Surface August 14th, 2014

Microfluidics/Nanofluidics

Novel chip-based platform could simplify measurements of single molecules: A nanopore-gated optofluidic chip combines electrical and optical measurements of single molecules onto a single platform August 14th, 2014

Blacktrace Holdings Ltd. to in-license PerkinElmer Technology August 8th, 2014

“Active” surfaces control what’s on them: Researchers develop treated surfaces that can actively control how fluids or particles move August 6th, 2014

Dolomite announces exclusive agreement for the sale of compact microfluidic pressure and vacuum pumps for pneumatic control systems in microfluidics, chemistry and mechatronics August 5th, 2014

Nanomedicine

Tissue regeneration using anti-inflammatory nanomolecules August 22nd, 2014

Ultra-short pulse lasers & Positioning August 21st, 2014

Nanotechnology Helps Production of Super Adsorbent Polymers August 21st, 2014

Newly-Developed Nanobiosensor Quickly Diagnoses Cancer August 20th, 2014

Discoveries

Tissue regeneration using anti-inflammatory nanomolecules August 22nd, 2014

A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy August 22nd, 2014

Shaping the Future of Nanocrystals: Berkeley Lab Researchers Obtain First Direct Observation of Facet Formation in Nanocubes August 21st, 2014

Water window imaging opportunity: A new theoretical study elucidates mechanisms that could help in producing coherent radiations, ultimately promoting high-contrast imaging of biological samples August 21st, 2014

Announcements

Tissue regeneration using anti-inflammatory nanomolecules August 22nd, 2014

A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy August 22nd, 2014

Malvern’s Dr Alan Rawle talks TLAs in plenary lecture at Particulate Systems Analysis conference August 21st, 2014

Water window imaging opportunity: A new theoretical study elucidates mechanisms that could help in producing coherent radiations, ultimately promoting high-contrast imaging of biological samples August 21st, 2014

Tools

A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy August 22nd, 2014

Hiden Release New Gas Analysis Catalogue August 21st, 2014

Wyatt Technology’s 24th International Light Scattering Colloquium to Highlight Developments in Applications and Characterization of Nanoparticles August 21st, 2014

Ultra-short pulse lasers & Positioning August 21st, 2014

Nanobiotechnology

The channel that relaxes DNA: Relaxing DNA strands by using nano-channels: Instructions for use August 20th, 2014

Сalculations with Nanoscale Smart Particles August 19th, 2014

Interaction between Drug, DNA for Designing Anticancer Drugs Studied in Iran August 17th, 2014

Scientists fold RNA origami from a single strand: RNA origami is a new method for organizing molecules on the nanoscale. Using just a single strand of RNA, this technique can produce many complicated shapes. August 14th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE