Navigation Links
Researchers advance knowledge of little 'nano-machines' in our body
Date:12/18/2008

Montreal, December 18, 2008 A discovery by Canada-U.S. biophysicists will improve the understanding of ion channels, akin to little 'nano-machines' or 'nano-valves' in our body, which when they malfunction can cause genetic illnesses that attack muscles, the central nervous system and the heart.

As reported in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers from the Universit de Montral and the University of Chicago have developed a novel method to detect the movement of single proteins that control the ion exchange between the cells and their environment.

Much like an iris in a camera, these proteins open and close and thereby control the movement of ions between the cells and their environment, which allows the transmission of electrical signals along our nerve cells. The size of these small valves is about a million times smaller than the pupil of a human eye. The new technique will allow scientist to measure one single ion channel at the time and investigate how different parts inside the ion channels communicate.

The research team was led by Rikard Blunck, a professor from the Universit de Montral's Department of Physics, M.Sc. student Hugo McGuire and their collaborators at the University of Chicago, Francisco Bezanilla and H. Clark Hyde.

"Our discovery will help advance the basic understanding of ion channels. These membrane proteins mark a major drug target, since they play a central role in the entire body and mutations in their genes cause many severe genetic illnesses," says Dr. Blunck, who was recruited to the Universit de Montral from UCLA to become the Canada Research Chair on Molecular Mechanisms of Membrane Proteins and member of the Groupe d'tude des protines membranaires, a multidisciplinary research group that studies protein functions and their involvement in physiological systems.

The PNAS study is important, as biophysics researchers seek to better understand the structure and movement of ion channels because the malfunctioning of these channels is implicated in a number of diseases.

For this study, the research team investigated potassium channels built out of four identical subunits, which form a pore through the membrane that can open and close in order to allow or block ion conduction.

They solved a long debate in the field: Do the four subunits of a K+ channel function independently or in a concerted action?

To answer this question, the physicists developed a fluorescence spectroscopy technique that allows distinguishing between the subunits so that one can follow, for the first time, the movement of each of the four subunits, information that was lost in previous measurements. They found that the four molecules act together, which explains why no intermediate steps are found in the electrical current measured in electrophysiological experiments.


'/>"/>

Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
sylvain-jacques.desjardins@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Researchers identify proteins involved in new neurodegenerative syndrome
2. Texas researchers and educators head for Antarctica
3. MGH researchers describe new way to identify, evolve novel enzymes
4. University of Pennsylvania researchers develop formula to gauge risk of disease clusters
5. U of MN researchers discover noninvasive diagnostic tool for brain diseases
6. U of Minnesota researchers discover noninvasive diagnostic tool for brain diseases
7. Researchers discover new strategies for antibiotic resistance
8. Researchers find new taste in fruit flies: carbonated water
9. Binghamton University researchers investigate evolving malaria resistance
10. UIC researchers find promising new targets for antibiotics
11. Researchers develop simple method to create natural drug products
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers advance knowledge of little 'nano-machines' in our body
(Date:3/14/2016)... , March 14, 2016 NXTD ) ... mobile commerce market, announces the airing of a new series ... the week of March 21 st .  The commercials will ... its popular Squawk on the Street show. --> ... the growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing of a ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... PUNE, India , March 11, 2016 ... to a new market research report "Image Recognition Market ... by Application (Marketing and Advertising), by Deployment Type (On-Premises ... Global Forecast To 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global ... in 2015 to USD 29.98 Billion by 2020, at ...
(Date:3/9/2016)... March 9, 2016 This BCC Research report ... of the RNA Sequencing (RNA Seq) market for the ... instruments, tools and reagents, data analysis, and services. ... of the RNA-Sequencing market such as RNA-Sequencing tools and ... main factors affecting each segment and forecast their market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... Cambridge Semantics, ... semantic web technology, today announced that it has been named to The Silicon Review’s ... financial services and other markets, Cambridge Semantics serves the needs of end users facing ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... The Pittcon Organizing Committee is pleased to announce that Charles ... member of Committee since 1987. Since then, he has served in a number of ... chairman for both the program and exposition committees. In his professional career, Dr. Gardner ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia , April 27, 2016 ... "Gesellschaft" oder "NanoStruck") (CSE: NSK) (OTCPink: NSKQB) ( ... sie im Anschluss an ihre Pressemitteilung vom 13. ... Inc. erhalten hat, ihre Finanzen um zusätzliche 200.000.000 ... auf 4.000.000 Kanadische Dollar zu bringen. Davon wurden ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... is pleased to announce the appointment of John Tilton as Chief Commercial Officer.  ... Director and one of the founding commercial leaders responsible for the commercialization of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: