Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Chemical reactions in artificial cell-scale systems show surprising diversity: The thousand-droplets test

Droplets with a diameter of only a few micrometers act as the reaction vessels for a complex oscillating reaction - Photo: Maximilian Weitz / TUM
Droplets with a diameter of only a few micrometers act as the reaction vessels for a complex oscillating reaction - Photo: Maximilian Weitz / TUM

Abstract:
In the future, an entire chemistry lab could be accommodated in a tiny little droplet. While simple reactions already work in these simplest models of an artificial cell now a group of scientists of the Cluster of Excellence Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM) have established and investigated for the first time a complex biochemical system. They discovered a surprising diversity.

Chemical reactions in artificial cell-scale systems show surprising diversity: The thousand-droplets test

Munich, Germany | Posted on February 18th, 2014

An almost infinite number of complex and interlinked reactions take place in a biological cell. In order to be able to better investigate these networks, scientists led by Professor Friedrich Simmel, Chair of Systems Biophysics and Nano Biophysics at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) try to replicate them with the necessary components in a kind of artificial cell. This is also motivated by the thought of one day using such single-cell systems for example as "nanofactories" for the production of complex organic substances or biomaterials.

All such experiments have so far predominantly worked with very simple reactions, however. NIM Professor Friedrich Simmel and his team have now for the first time managed to let a more complex biochemical reaction take place in tiny droplets of only a few micrometers in size. Together with co-authors from the University of California Riverside and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, USA, the scientists are presenting their findings in the current edition of Nature Chemistry.

Shaking once - investigating thousands of times

The experiment is conducted by putting an aqueous reaction solution into oil and shaking the mixture vigorously. The result is an emulsion consisting of thousands of droplets. Employing only a tiny amount of material, the scientists have thus found a cost-efficient and quick way of setting up an extremely large number of experiments simultaneously.

As a test system, the researchers chose a so-called biochemical oscillator. This involves several reactions with DNA and RNA, which take place repetitively one after the other. Their rhythm becomes visible because in one step two DNA strands bind to each other in such a way that a fluorescent dye shines. This regular blinking is then recorded with special cameras.

Small droplets - huge differences

In the first instance, Friedrich Simmel and his colleagues intended to investigate the principal behavior of a complex reaction system if scaled down to the size of a cell. In addition, they specifically wondered if all droplet systems displayed an identical behavior and what factors would cause possible differences.

Their experiments showed that the oscillations in the individual droplets differed strongly, that is to say, much stronger than might have been expected from a simple statistical model. It was above all evident that small drops display stronger variations than large ones. "It is indeed surprising that we could witness a similar variability and individuality in a comparatively simple chemical system as is known from biological cells", explains Friedrich Simmel the results.

Thus, it is currently not possible to realize systems which are absolutely identical. This de facto means that researchers have to either search for ways to correct these variations or factor them in from the start. On the other hand, the numerous slightly differing systems could also be used specifically to pick out the one desired, optimally running set-up from thousands of systems.

Investigating complex biosynthetic systems in artificial cells opens up many other questions, as well. In a next step, Friedrich Simmel plans to address the underlying theoretical models: "The highly parallel recording of the emulsion droplets enabled us to acquire plenty of interesting data. Our goal is to use these data to review and improve the theoretical models of biochemical reaction networks at small molecule numbers."

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the European Commission, the German Research Foundation's Cluster of Excellence Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM) and the Bavarian Elite Network.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Dr. Andreas Battenberg

49-892-891-0510

Prof. Dr. Friedrich C. Simmel
Chair of Bioelectronics Systems Biophysics and Bionanotechnology
Am Coulombwall 4a, 85748 Garching, Germany
Tel.: +49 89 289 11612

Copyright © Technische Universitaet Muenchen

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 Links

Video:

Publication:

Related News Press

News and information

Switching with molecules: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices May 25th, 2018

Tunable diamond string may hold key to quantum memory: A process similar to guitar tuning improves storage time of quantum memory May 24th, 2018

Remote control of transport through nanopores: New study outlines key factors affecting the transfer of molecules through biological channels May 24th, 2018

2018 Kavli Prizes in Astrophysics, Nanoscience, and Neuroscience to be Announced Live on May 31: Live announcement at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters to be streamed live at World Science Festival Event May 24th, 2018

Videos/Movies

Salt boosts creation of 2-D materials: Rice University scientists show how salt lowers reaction temperatures to make novel materials April 18th, 2018

Quantum shift shows itself in coupled light and matter: Rice University scientists corral, quantify subtle movement in condensed matter system April 16th, 2018

Improving human-data interaction to speed nanomaterials innovation: New application of data analysis, visualization techniques achieves better representation of multidimensional materials data: Work is part of Lehigh University's initiative to accelerate understanding of material March 27th, 2018

Individual quantum dots imaged in 3-D for first time February 28th, 2018

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic protein packages its own genetic material and evolves computationally designed protein assemblies are advancing research in synthetic life and in targeted drug delivery December 15th, 2017

Report highlights opportunities and risks associated with synthetic biology and bioengineering November 22nd, 2017

Living computers: RNA circuits transform cells into nanodevices July 27th, 2017

In-cell molecular sieve from protein crystal February 14th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Tunable diamond string may hold key to quantum memory: A process similar to guitar tuning improves storage time of quantum memory May 24th, 2018

Columbia Researchers Squeeze Light into Nanoscale Devices and Circuits: Team is first to directly image propagation and dynamics of graphene plasmons at very low temperatures; findings could impact optical communications and signal processing May 23rd, 2018

NIST Puts the Optical Microscope Under the Microscope to Achieve Atomic Accuracy May 22nd, 2018

Magnesium magnificent for plasmonic applications: Rice University, University of Cambridge synthesize and test nanoparticles of abundant material May 22nd, 2018

Discoveries

Switching with molecules: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices May 25th, 2018

Tunable diamond string may hold key to quantum memory: A process similar to guitar tuning improves storage time of quantum memory May 24th, 2018

Remote control of transport through nanopores: New study outlines key factors affecting the transfer of molecules through biological channels May 24th, 2018

'Spooky action at a distance': Researchers develop module for quantum repeater May 23rd, 2018

Announcements

Switching with molecules: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices May 25th, 2018

Tunable diamond string may hold key to quantum memory: A process similar to guitar tuning improves storage time of quantum memory May 24th, 2018

Remote control of transport through nanopores: New study outlines key factors affecting the transfer of molecules through biological channels May 24th, 2018

2018 Kavli Prizes in Astrophysics, Nanoscience, and Neuroscience to be Announced Live on May 31: Live announcement at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters to be streamed live at World Science Festival Event May 24th, 2018

Nanobiotechnology

Remote control of transport through nanopores: New study outlines key factors affecting the transfer of molecules through biological channels May 24th, 2018

New blood test rapidly detects signs of pancreatic cancer May 17th, 2018

Nanomedicine -- Targeting cancer cells with sugars May 14th, 2018

NanoBio Announces Corporate Name Change to BlueWillow Biologics and Closes $10M Series A Financing: Move Reflects Focus on Advancing Several Intranasal Vaccines to Human Studies May 9th, 2018

Research partnerships

Tunable diamond string may hold key to quantum memory: A process similar to guitar tuning improves storage time of quantum memory May 24th, 2018

NIST Puts the Optical Microscope Under the Microscope to Achieve Atomic Accuracy May 22nd, 2018

Deeper understanding of quantum chaos may be the key to quantum computers May 16th, 2018

Nanoscale measurements 100x more precise, thanks to improved two-photon technique May 8th, 2018

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project