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Biologistics: How fast do chemical trains move in living cells?
Date:1/31/2013

The rate of chemical processes in cells is dictated by the speed of movement (diffusion) of molecules needed for a given reaction. Using a versatile method developed at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, researchers were able to predict for the first time the diffusion coefficients of all proteins in Escherichia coli. The achievement is important not only for biologists and chemists, but also for... transport companies.

Understanding of chemical foundations of life requires knowledge about the rate of chemical reactions in cells. The rates of these reactions depend on how fast the molecules taking part in reactions move (diffuse) in the cytoplasm. Prof. Robert Hołyst's research team from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (IPC PAS) managed to determine for the first time the diffusion coefficients for virtually all the proteins occurring in Escherichia coli. The method developed by the researchers can also be used for other cells.

The movements of molecules in cells resemble a bit what's going on in railway stations. But the differences are obvious at first glance. "Regular trains leave stations at fixed times, whereas in cells transport processes take place virtually all the time. That's why it doesn't make sense to ask what time does the train with specific molecules leave the station. But it definitely makes sense to ask how fast the train with specific molecules is moving!", explains Prof. Robert Hołyst (IPC PAS).

Transport efficiency of chemical compounds in cells became inspiring for many transport companies. There's talk of biologistics as modelling vehicle or rail transport by looking up to what's going on inside the cells. Prof. Hołyst, however, has no illusions about that: "Everyone is delighted, for in cells the transport is so wonderfully resistant to perturbations. They forget, however, that the tran
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Contact: Robert Hoyst
rholyst@ichf.edu.pl
48-223-433-123
Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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