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First size-based chromatography technique for the study of livi
Date:4/22/2014

Using nanodot technology, Berkeley Lab researchers have demonstrated the first size-based form of chromatography that can be used to study the membranes of living cells. This unique physical approach to probing cellular membrane structures can reveal information critical to whether a cell lives or dies, remains normal or turns cancerous, that can't be obtained through conventional microscopy.

"We've developed membrane-embedded nanodot array platforms that provide a physical means to both probe and manipulate membrane assemblies, including signaling clusters, while they are functioning in the membrane of a living cell," says Jay Groves, a chemist with Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division, who led this research.

Groves, who is also a professor with the University of California (UC) Berkeley's Chemistry Department, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator, is a recognized leader in developing techniques for studying the impact of spatial patterns on living cells. The live-cell supported synthetic membranes he and his group have been developing are constructed out of lipids and assembled onto a substrate of solid silica. These membranes are being used to determine how living cells not only interact with their environment through chemical signals but also through physical force and spatial patterns.

"We call our approach the spatial mutation strategy because molecules in a cell can be spatially re-arranged without altering the cell in any other way," Groves says. "Our live cell-supported membranes provide a hybrid interface consisting of mobile and immobile components with controlled geometry that allows us to utilize solid-state nanotechnology to manipulate and control molecular systems inside living cells."

While the work of Groves and others in recent years has demonstrated the importance of protein and lipid spatial organization within cellular membranes, details as to how spatial organization is tied
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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