Navigation Links
Graphene 'sandwich' improves images of biomolecules
Date:2/5/2014

By sandwiching a biological molecule between sheets of graphene, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have obtained atomic-level images of the molecule in its natural watery environment.

The results are published online in advance of print in the journal Advanced Materials.

The molecule, ferritin, is a highly conserved protein that regulates the levels of iron in animals and plants. Ferritin can sequester excess iron, which can be toxic, and release it when it is needed.

"We found a way to encapsulate a liquid sample in two very thin layers of graphene sheets of carbon that are only one atom thick," said Canhui Wang, UIC graduate student in physics and first author of the study.

Electron microscopes let researchers see at the level of individual atoms. But to do so they must put the samples in a vacuum, making it impossible to image biomolecules in water in their natural, functional state. Biological samples have usually been placed in a container called a "liquid stage," wedged between relatively thick windows of silicon nitrate.

Robert Klie, the senior investigator on the study, says the thin layers of graphene in the new system work better, being nearly transparent.

"It's like the difference between looking through Saran Wrap and thick crystal," said Klie, who is associate professor of physics and mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC.

Not only resolution improved compared to the liquid stage. The graphene sandwich also minimizes damage to the sample from radiation, said Wang.

According to Wang, some people have calculated that just to barely visualize a sample requires the equivalent of 10 times the radiation 30 meters away from a 10 megaton hydrogen bomb. "We often use an electron beam that is several orders of magnitude more intense in our experiments," he said.

Graphene has an extraordinarily high thermal and electro-conductivity, said Klee, and is able to conduct away both the heat and the electrons generated as the electron microscope's beam passes through the sample.

Instead of using a low-energy beam to minimize damage, which yields a fuzzy picture that must be refined using a mathematical algorithm, the scientists were able to use high energies to generate images of ferritin at atomic level resolution. This enabled them to see, in a single functioning molecule, that iron oxide in ferritin's core changes its electrical charge, initiating the release of iron.

This insight into how the ferritin core handles iron may lead to a better understanding of what goes wrong in many human disorders, said Tolou Shokuhfar, assistant professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics at Michigan Technological University and adjunct professor of physics at UIC, the principal investigator of the study.

"Defects in ferritin are associated with many diseases and disorders, but it has not been well understood how a dysfunctional ferritin works towards triggering life-threatening diseases in the brain and other parts of the human body," said Shokuhfar.

Wang had to solve a number of technical issues to develop the new technique, said Klie, but the graphene sandwich will now "open up analysis of biological and other difficult to image samples to almost anyone with an electron microscope." In contrast, he said, the standard liquid stage requires a large upfront investment in equipment and expensive preparation of each sample.

With graphene, once the technique is mastered, preparation of samples can be done quickly and cheaply, said Wang.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jeanne Galatzer-Levy
jgala@uic.edu
312-996-1583
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. High-resolution atomic imaging of specimens in liquid by TEM using graphene liquid cell
2. Using graphene, scientists develop a less toxic way to rust-proof steel
3. Graphene plasmonics beats the drug cheats
4. Researchers use graphene quantum dots to detect humidity and pressure
5. Graphene nanoribbons for reading DNA
6. Graphene nanoribbons an ice-melting coat for radar
7. UNIST research team opens graphene band-gap
8. Satellite sandwich technique improves analysis of geographical data
9. Strip-till improves soybean yield
10. ORNL process improves catalytic rate of enzymes by 3,000 percent
11. Researchers discover potential explanation for why a diet high in DHA improves memory
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/19/2016)... TORONTO , 19 de diciembre de 2016  Mosaic Biomedicals ... el desarrollo acelerado de MSC-1, un anticuerpo humanizado que se espera ... en 2017, con múltiples sitios previstos a lo largo de Europa ... MSC-1 ... factor inhibidor de leucemia (LIF), una citoquina pleiotrópica que se sobreexpresa ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... and BADEN-BADEN, Germany , December ... leading global financial services provider, today announced an agreement with ... behavioural biometrics, to join forces. The partnership will enable clients ... strategies in compliance with local data protection regulation. ... In order to ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... Mich. , Dec. 15, 2016  There is ... car doors or starting the engine. Continental will demonstrate ... Las Vegas . Through the combination ... Start and Entry) and biometric elements, the international technology ... of vehicle personalization and authentication. "The integration ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/18/2017)...  Caris Life Sciences, a leading innovator in ... private funder of pancreatic cancer research, are collaborating ... of immunotherapy in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. ... identify potential trial candidates based on biomarker expression ... study investigators. The Lustgarten Foundation is a sponsor ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... Foreside, Maine (PRWEB) , ... January 17, 2017 ... ... announce the addition of Rheumatoid Factor (RF) to its VALIDATE® SP2 calibration verification ... Rheumatoid Factor in a human serum base. Each VALIDATE® SP2 kit is prepared ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... Jan. 17, 2017  An international team of ... and St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre/University of ... an unmet health need affecting nearly one in ... Clinical Investigation, their results identify small molecule drugs ... reverse neuronal injury in animal models of metabolic, ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... , Jan. 17, 2017   Pulmatrix, Inc . ... company developing innovative inhaled therapies to address serious pulmonary ... fungal infections in the lungs of CF patients, PUR1900, ... (QIDP) by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. ... designed to speed the development of novel drugs against ...
Breaking Biology Technology: