Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Creation of 'Rocker' protein opens way for new smart molecules in medicine, other fields

Rocker (blue ribbons and yellow sticks) is an artificially designed protein that transports zinc ions (green) across biological membranes (gray sticks) by binding zinc ions it at one end of the molecule and rearranging ('rocking') to pass them onto the other end. The protein was built by researchers from Dartmouth College and other institutions.

Credit: Dartmouth College
Rocker (blue ribbons and yellow sticks) is an artificially designed protein that transports zinc ions (green) across biological membranes (gray sticks) by binding zinc ions it at one end of the molecule and rearranging ('rocking') to pass them onto the other end. The protein was built by researchers from Dartmouth College and other institutions.

Credit: Dartmouth College

Abstract:
Human cells are protected by a largely impenetrable molecular membrane, but researchers have built the first artificial transporter protein that carries individual atoms across membranes, opening the possibility of engineering a new class of smart molecules with applications in fields as wide ranging as nanotechnology and medicine.

Creation of 'Rocker' protein opens way for new smart molecules in medicine, other fields

Hanover, NH | Posted on December 18th, 2014

The study, which appears Friday, Dec. 19, in the journal Science, is a milestone in designing and understanding membrane proteins. A PDF is available upon request. The study was conducted by researchers from Dartmouth College, the University of California-San Francisco, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National Institute of Science Educational and Research in India.

Each human cell is surrounded by a lipid membrane, a molecular barrier that serves to contain the cellular machinery and protect it from the surrounding elements. This cellular "skin" is impenetrable to most biological molecules but also presents a conundrum: if chemicals can't get in or out, how is a cell to receive nutrients (food) and remove unwanted products of metabolism (trash)? Nature has come up with an elegant solution to this logistical problem -- transporter proteins (or transporters). These molecular machines are embedded in the cellular membrane and serve as gatekeepers, allowing specific chemicals to shuttle in and out when needed. Though biologists have known about transporters for many decades, their precise mechanism of action has been elusive.

The researchers set out to "build" an artificial transporter protein from scratch, to learn how transporters work, and to open the possibility of engineering a new class of smart molecules. They developed new computational techniques to model the necessary molecular physics, enabling them to design a transporter protein through computer simulation. Specifically, computer simulations suggested which amino-acid building blocks should comprise the future transporter, so that it would carry ionic atoms of metal zinc in one direction across membranes, while pumping protons in the other. Using this computational blueprint, they created the molecule in the lab, referring to it as "Rocker" due to its predicted molecular dynamic properties: the protein was expected to "rock" between two alternating states, allowing it to drive atoms through.

"To our great excitement, experiments showed that Rocker did indeed transport zinc and protons and it did, in fact, rock between two states just as designed," says co-lead author Gevorg Grigoryan (dartmouth.edu/faculty-directory/gevorg-grigoryan), an assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth. "Further, Rocker showed great selectivity, not transporting ions of calcium, another design feature."

Proteins are nature's workhorse molecules, performing a great variety of tasks in the cell from catalysis and sensing to generation of mechanical work. Learning to design (from first principles) novel protein molecules to perform specific tasks would mean that the immense richness of function that proteins have to offer can be brought to bear in a variety of applications, from better therapeutics to smart materials and clean energy solutions.

"Our findings are an important step forward in this pursuit, demonstrating that through the use of computer simulations to orchestrate precise properties of atomic structure and molecular dynamics, proteins can now be designed to carry out complex functions that rival those of natural molecular machines," Grigoryan says. "Further, our work represents a milestone in designing and understanding membrane proteins, a particularly challenging class of proteins."

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
John Cramer

603-646-9130

Assistant Professor
Gevorg Grigoryan
is available to comment at

Copyright © Dartmouth College

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

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

JPK talks with Dr Frank Lafont, Director of the BioImaging Center Lille (BICeL) about the use of the NanoWizardŽ AFM together with fluorescence microscopy in the study of living cells June 19th, 2018

Powering the 21st Century with Integrated Photonics: UCSB-Led Team Selected for Demonstration of a Novel Waveguide Platform Which is Transparent Throughout the MWIR and LWIR Spectral Bands June 19th, 2018

Executives Explore Key Megatrends and Innovations in MEMS, Sensors, Imaging Tech at SEMI-MSIG European Summits: Speakers to share developments in smart automotive, smart cities, smart industrial, biomedical, consumer and IoT, September 19-21, 2018 in Grenoble, France June 19th, 2018

Molecular Machines

Biophysics -- lighting up DNA-based nanostructures April 25th, 2018

Tiny nanomachine successfully completes test drive: Researchers at the University of Bonn and the research institute Caesar build a one-wheeled vehicle out of DNA rings April 11th, 2018

Piecework at the nano assembly line: Electric fields drive nano-motors a 100,000 times faster than previous methods January 22nd, 2018

'Gyroscope' molecules form crystal that's both solid and full of motion: New type of molecular machine designed by UCLA researchers could have wide-ranging applications in technology and science January 16th, 2018

Nanomedicine

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

JPK talks with Dr Frank Lafont, Director of the BioImaging Center Lille (BICeL) about the use of the NanoWizardŽ AFM together with fluorescence microscopy in the study of living cells June 19th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Graphene carpets: So neurons communicate better: Research by SISSA reveals that graphene can strengthen neuronal activity, confirming the unique properties of this nanomaterial. The study has been published on Nature Nanotechnology June 13th, 2018

Discoveries

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

Announcements

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

JPK talks with Dr Frank Lafont, Director of the BioImaging Center Lille (BICeL) about the use of the NanoWizardŽ AFM together with fluorescence microscopy in the study of living cells June 19th, 2018

Powering the 21st Century with Integrated Photonics: UCSB-Led Team Selected for Demonstration of a Novel Waveguide Platform Which is Transparent Throughout the MWIR and LWIR Spectral Bands June 19th, 2018

Executives Explore Key Megatrends and Innovations in MEMS, Sensors, Imaging Tech at SEMI-MSIG European Summits: Speakers to share developments in smart automotive, smart cities, smart industrial, biomedical, consumer and IoT, September 19-21, 2018 in Grenoble, France June 19th, 2018

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 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