Chemistry 2011.org
Chemistry2011.org
All About Chemistry... 2011 and beyond

Related Stories

Nanotubes could serve as 'universal scaffolding' for cell membrane channels

A study, in which the Membrane Nanomechanics group led by the Ikerbasque lecturer Dr Vadim Frolov at the Biophysics Unit of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has participated, suggests that single-wall carbon nanotubes could be used as universal scaffolding to help to replicate the properties of Cell-Membrane'>cell membrane channels. The results of the study have been published in the journal Nature.

Biological membranes define the functional architecture of living systems: they are selectively permeable, maintain the chemical identity of the cells and intracellular organelles, and regulate the exchange of material between them. To control the transporting of ions and small molecules through cell membranes, highly specialised proteins that transport these molecules through the membrane are used. Recent advances in nanotechnology and nanofabrication have made it possible to synthesise and manufacture artificial compounds destined to fulfil the functions of transmembrane channels and transporters. The behaviour of these artificial compounds is increasingly similar to that of their cell prototypes, in other words, they have increasingly similar characteristics: molecular selectivity, membrane targeting and transport efficiency. However, creating a universal, versatile prototype to manufacture channels with specific transport properties remains a challenge.

The study, which has had the participation of the group of Dr Vadim Frolov, Ikerbasque lecturer-researcher at the UPV/EHU's Biophysics Unit, and led by Dr Alex Noy of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (United States), suggests that single-wall carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be used as a framework with similar affinity and transport properties as protein channels. Nanotubes are very efficient transporters because their narrow diameter (of about 1 nm) and hydrophobic interior are very similar to the general structural design of these proteins.

The researchers involved in the study have discovered that ultrashort CNTs covered with lipid molecules form channels in artificial membranes as well as in living cell membranes. These structures remain stable in solution and spontaneously insert into the membranes. Likewise, the researchers have seen that the CNTs inserted in a membrane contain transport properties comparable with those of small ion channels. What is more, they have found that these CNTs are capable of transporting DNA.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of the Basque Country. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Share this story with your friends!

Social Networking

Please recommend us on Facebook, Twitter and more:

Other social media tools

Global Partners
Feedback

Tell us what you think of Chemistry 2011 -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?

About us

Chemistry2011 is an informational resource for students, educators and the self-taught in the field of chemistry. We offer resources such as course materials, chemistry department listings, activities, events, projects and more along with current news releases.

Events & Activities

Are you interested in listing an event or sharing an activity or idea? Perhaps you are coordinating an event and are in need of additional resources? Within our site you will find a variety of activities and projects your peers have previously submitted or which have been freely shared through creative commons licenses. Here are some highlights: Featured Idea 1, Featured Idea 2.

About you

Ready to get involved? The first step is to sign up by following the link: Join Here. Also don’t forget to fill out your profile including any professional designations.

Global Partners