Navigation Links
Penn researchers help graft olfactory receptors onto nanotubes
Date:7/26/2011

PHILADELPHIA Penn researchers have helped develop a nanotech device that combines carbon nanotubes with olfactory receptor proteins, the cell components in the nose that detect odors.

Because olfactory receptors belong to a larger class of proteins that are involved in passing signals through the cell membrane, these devices could have applications beyond odor sensing, such as pharmaceutical research.

The research was led by professor A. T. Charlie Johnson, postdoctoral fellow Brett R. Goldsmith and graduate student Mitchell T. Lerner of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences, along with assistant professor Bohdana M. Discher and postdoctoral fellow Joseph J. Mitala Jr. of the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine. They collaborated with researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, the University of Miami, the University of Illinois, Princeton University and two private companies, Nanosense Inc. and Evolved Machines Inc.

Their work was published in the journal ACS Nano.

The Penn team worked with olfactory receptors derived from mice, but all olfactory receptors are part of a class of proteins known as G Protein Coupled Receptors, or GPCRs. These receptors sit on the outer membrane of cells, where certain chemicals in the environment can bind to them. The binding action is the first step in a chemical cascade that leads to a cellular response; in the case of an olfactory receptor, this cascade leads to the perception of a smell.

The Penn team succeeded in building an interface between this complicated protein and a carbon nanotube transistor, allowing them to convert the chemical signals the receptor normally produces to electrical signals, which could be incorporated in any number of tools and gadgets.

"Our nanotech devices are read-out elements; they eavesdrop on what the olfactory receptors are doing, specifically what molecules are bound to them," Johnson said.

As the particular GPCR the team worked with was an olfactory receptor, the test case for their nanotube device was to function as sensor for airborne chemicals.

"If there's something in the atmosphere that wants to bind to this molecule, the signal we get through the nanotube is about what fraction of the time is something bound or not. That means we can get a contiguous read out that's indicative of the concentration of the molecule in the air," Johnson said.

While one could imagine scaling up these nanotube devices into a synthetic nose making one for each of the approximately 350 olfactory GPCRs in a human nose, or the 1,000 found in a dog's Johnson thinks that medical applications are much closer to being realized.

"GPCRs are common drug targets," he said. "Since they are known to be very important in cell-environment interactions, they're very important in respect to disease pathology. In that respect, we now have a pathway into interrogating what those GPCRs actually respond to. You can imagine building a chip with many of these devices, each with different GPCRs, and exposing them all at once to various drugs to see which is effective at triggering a response."

Figuring out what kinds of drugs bind most effectively to GPCRs is important because pathogens often attack through those receptors as well. The better a harmless chemical attaches to a relevant GPCR, the better it is at blocking the disease.

The Penn team also made a technical advancement in stabilizing GPCRs for future research.

"In the past, if you take a protein out of a cell and put it onto a device, it might last for a day. But here, we embedded it in a nanoscale artificial cell membrane, which is called a nanodisc," Johnson said. "When we did that, they lasted for two and half months, instead of a day."

Increasing the lifespans of such devices could be beneficial to two scientific fields with increasing overlap, as the as evidenced by the large, interdisciplinary research team involved in the study.

"The big picture is integrating nanotechnology with biology, " Johnson said. "These complicated molecular machines are the prime method of communication between the interior of the cell and the exterior, and now we're incorporating their functionality with our nanotech devices."


'/>"/>

Contact: Evan Lerner
elerner@upenn.edu
215-573-6604
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. U of M researchers may have discovered key to help women fight infections during pregnancy
2. Behavior 2011 to draw global contingent of more than 1,100 animal researchers to IU next week
3. U of M researchers discover gene required to maintain male sex throughout life
4. Caltech researchers create the first artificial neural network out of DNA
5. Western researchers receive $600,000 to study Prion diseases and Alzheimers
6. Researchers find potential key for unlocking biomass energy
7. Researchers present new trends in HIV cure research, call for proactive outreach programs to prevent HIV transmission in injecting drug users, and demand increased commitments to improving maternal and child health
8. E-health records should play bigger role in patient safety initiatives, researchers advocate
9. John Theurer Cancer Center researchers shared 14 leading edge studies at recent ASCO meeting
10. Researchers provide means of monitoring cellular interactions
11. USC researchers explore the source of empathy in the brain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/11/2016)... http://www.apimages.com ) - --> http://www.apimages.com ... at AP Images ( http://www.apimages.com ) - Germany ... produce the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling this ... Hanover next week.   --> ... to produce the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling ...
(Date:3/9/2016)... 9, 2016 This BCC Research report provides ... the RNA Sequencing (RNA Seq) market for the years ... tools and reagents, data analysis, and services. ... the RNA-Sequencing market such as RNA-Sequencing tools and reagents, ... factors affecting each segment and forecast their market growth, ...
(Date:3/3/2016)... -- FlexTech, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, awarded five FLEXI ... Leadership in Education, and, in a category new this ... year of the FLEXI Awards and the winners join ... past years . Judging was done on a set ... by a panel of non-affiliated, independent, industry experts. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... Connecticut Innovations ... growing companies, today announced the launch of VentureClash , a $5 million ... , “VentureClash looks to attract the best early-stage companies here in Connecticut, ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... As part of ... industry experts, and expanding its LATAM network and logistics capabilities. Enhancements have ... manage their clinical trial projects. , The expansion will provide unmatched clinical trial ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... Cambridge Semantics, ... web technology, today announced that it has been named to The Silicon Review’s “20 ... services and other markets, Cambridge Semantics serves the needs of end users facing some ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... ... The Pittcon Organizing Committee is pleased to announce that Charles “Chuck” Gardner ... Committee since 1987. Since then, he has served in a number of key leadership ... both the program and exposition committees. In his professional career, Dr. Gardner is the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: