Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > Preventing protein unfolding: Polymers can reinforce proteins under mechanical forces

Keten's work is featured on the cover of February's ACS Nano.
Keten's work is featured on the cover of February's ACS Nano.

Abstract:
When the body loses its ability to fold proteins into the correct shapes, the result can be irreversible and tragic. The accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins in the brain causes many devastating neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Preventing protein unfolding: Polymers can reinforce proteins under mechanical forces

Evanston, IL | Posted on February 27th, 2016

In order to maintain their functions, structural proteins and engineered, protein-based materials need to avoid unfolding even under large mechanical stresses. Scientists, therefore, are exploring ways to design proteins that can survive extreme mechanical insults.

Northwestern Engineering's Sinan Keten has theoretically demonstrated that small proteins can be reinforced with covalently bonded polymers against mechanical unfolding. His computational model illustrates strategies for using this polymer conjugation to prevent proteins from rapidly unfolding even when stretched or pulled apart.

"If you apply a stress to a protein, we know it will start to unfold," said Keten, assistant professor of mechanical, civil and environmental engineering. "Given that proteins are subject to mechanical forces in the body and in all applications, it will be useful to reinforce them in this way."

Supported by the Office of Naval Research, Keten's research is featured on the cover of the February issue of the journal ACS Nano. Elizabeth DeBenedictis, a PhD student in Keten's lab, and Elham Hamed, a former postdoctoral fellow in Keten's lab, are the paper's first authors. DeBenedictis also created the painting that was used for the journal's cover image.

A protein's shape is related to its function. By coiling and folding into specific three-dimensional shapes, they are able to perform their different biological tasks. Proteins are held together by weak hydrogen bonds. When they unfold, these bonds break and are often replaced by hydrogen bonds with water.

"Once the water is in there, it's hard to reverse the process," Keten explained. "It's hard for the protein to refold."

Researchers have long known that attaching polymers to proteins can stabilize them thermally. But little is known from a mechanical perspective. Keten's team used a common protein structure, called an alpha helix, and a soft, nontoxic polymer called poly-ethylene-glycol to test the reinforcing strategy under mechanical forces. They found that, through hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions, the polymer can reside near the surface of the protein. This shields its backbone hydrogen bonds from being replaced by bonds with water molecules, enabling the protein to hold its specific shape much longer under constant stress.

"The protein can refold back to its original configuration more easily," he said. "When the polymer is close to the surface, you see refolding."

Not only could this finding inform medicine about how to treat or prevent protein unfolding diseases, but the method could be used to stabilize protein-based biomaterials, which is important giving vaccines longer shelf lives, improving drug delivery and creating stronger scaffolds for tissue engineering.

Next, Keten's team will create a design strategy for determining polymer and protein interfaces that work well together. The team also collaborates with experimental groups to explore applications that may benefit from Keten's computational models.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Hilary Hurd Anyaso

847-491-4887

Copyright © Northwestern University

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

Download article:

Related News Press

News and information

Brought into line: FAU physicists control the flow of electron pulses through a nanostructure channel September 24th, 2021

Nanocellulose decorated with proteins is suitable for 3D cell culturing September 24th, 2021

Development of dendritic-network-implementable artificial neurofiber transistors: Transistors with a fibrous architecture similar to those of neurons are capable of forming artificial neural networks. Fibrous networks can be used in smart wearable devices and robots September 24th, 2021

Researchers use breakthrough method to answer key question about electron states September 24th, 2021

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

UTA project aims to extend life of concrete, cement by adding nanoscale wood fibers: Wood fibers key to sustainable concrete, cement September 24th, 2021

A simple way to get complex semiconductors to assemble themselves: Much like crystallizing rock candy from sugar syrup, the new method grows 2D perovskites precisely layered with other 2D materials to produce crystals with a wide range of electronic properties September 17th, 2021

Scientists demonstrate pathway to forerunner of nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication September 17th, 2021

Stretching the capacity of flexible energy storage September 10th, 2021

Possible Futures

Micro-scale opto-thermo-mechanical actuation in the dry adhesive regime Peer-Reviewed Publication September 24th, 2021

MXene-GaN van der Waals metal-semiconductor junctions for high performance photodetection September 24th, 2021

Nanocellulose decorated with proteins is suitable for 3D cell culturing September 24th, 2021

Development of dendritic-network-implementable artificial neurofiber transistors: Transistors with a fibrous architecture similar to those of neurons are capable of forming artificial neural networks. Fibrous networks can be used in smart wearable devices and robots September 24th, 2021

Nanomedicine

New nano particles suppress resistance to cancer immunotherapy September 17th, 2021

Getting to the root of tooth replantation challenges: Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) report a delivery system that promotes healing in tooth replantation in rats September 17th, 2021

Engineering various sources of loss provides new features for perfect light absorption: "Loss is ubiquitous in nature, and by better understanding it, we make it more useful" September 10th, 2021

Leibniz Prize winner Professor Dr. Oliver G. Schmidt moves to Chemnitz University of Technology: President Professor Dr. Gerd Strohmeier refers to an 'absolute top transfer' September 10th, 2021

Discoveries

Fabricating MgB2 superconductors using spark plasma sintering and pulse magnetization: New research suggests that highly dense MgB2 bulks have improved mechanical and superconducting properties September 24th, 2021

Brought into line: FAU physicists control the flow of electron pulses through a nanostructure channel September 24th, 2021

Nanocellulose decorated with proteins is suitable for 3D cell culturing September 24th, 2021

Researchers use breakthrough method to answer key question about electron states September 24th, 2021

Announcements

Brought into line: FAU physicists control the flow of electron pulses through a nanostructure channel September 24th, 2021

Nanocellulose decorated with proteins is suitable for 3D cell culturing September 24th, 2021

Development of dendritic-network-implementable artificial neurofiber transistors: Transistors with a fibrous architecture similar to those of neurons are capable of forming artificial neural networks. Fibrous networks can be used in smart wearable devices and robots September 24th, 2021

Researchers use breakthrough method to answer key question about electron states September 24th, 2021

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

Micro-scale opto-thermo-mechanical actuation in the dry adhesive regime Peer-Reviewed Publication September 24th, 2021

MXene-GaN van der Waals metal-semiconductor junctions for high performance photodetection September 24th, 2021

Fabricating MgB2 superconductors using spark plasma sintering and pulse magnetization: New research suggests that highly dense MgB2 bulks have improved mechanical and superconducting properties September 24th, 2021

Brought into line: FAU physicists control the flow of electron pulses through a nanostructure channel September 24th, 2021

Military

Scientists demonstrate pathway to forerunner of nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication September 17th, 2021

Putting a new theory of many-particle quantum systems to the test: Experiments show that generalized hydrodynamics accurately simulates an out-of-equilibrium quantum system September 3rd, 2021

NISTís quantum crystal could be a new dark matter sensor Peer-Reviewed Publication August 6th, 2021

UVA Engineering researchers join quest to demonstrate photonic systems-on-chip: Future applications include faster, more efficient data centers and next-generation millimeter-wave wireless communication July 30th, 2021

Nanobiotechnology

New nano particles suppress resistance to cancer immunotherapy September 17th, 2021

Getting to the root of tooth replantation challenges: Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) report a delivery system that promotes healing in tooth replantation in rats September 17th, 2021

Leibniz Prize winner Professor Dr. Oliver G. Schmidt moves to Chemnitz University of Technology: President Professor Dr. Gerd Strohmeier refers to an 'absolute top transfer' September 10th, 2021

Imaging single spine structural plasticity at the nanoscale level: Researchers at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) have developed a new imaging technique capable of visualizing the dynamically changing structure of dendritic spines with unprecedented resol September 3rd, 2021

Life Extension/Cryonics

Ageing can drive progress: Population ageing is likely to boost medicine, nanotechnology and robotics, but increase political risks July 27th, 2016

Multicolor super resolution imaging: A method to monitor dynamic protein binding at subsecond timescales June 19th, 2016

Lifeboat Foundation launches 3 books December 16th, 2015

Hopes of improved brain implants October 1st, 2015

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