Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Uranium Poisoning Treatment Developed

Date:
February 13, 2009
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Researchers have developed a protein that binds to uranium selectively and tightly -- a simple, effective methods for the sensitive detection and effective treatment of uranium poisoning.

Construction of a selective uranium-binding protein.
Credit: Image courtesy of Wiley-Blackwell

The use of uranium as a nuclear fuel and in weapons increases the risk that people may come into contact with it, and the storage of radioactive uranium waste poses an additional environmental risk. However, radioactivity is not the only problem related to contact with uranium; the toxicity of this metal is generally more dangerous to human health.

Researchers are still looking for simple, effective methods for the sensitive detection and effective treatment of uranium poisoning. Researchers led by Chuan He at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory (USA) have now developed a protein that binds to uranium selectively and tightly. As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, it is based on a bacterial nickel-binding protein.

In oxygen-containing, aqueous environments, uranium normally exists in the form of the uranyl cation (UO22+), a linear molecule made of one uranium atom and two terminal oxygen atoms. The uranyl ion also likes to form coordination complexes. It prefers to surround itself with up to six ligands arranged in a plane around the ion’s “equator”. The research team thus chose to develop a protein that offers the uranyl ion a binding cavity in which it is surrounded by the protein’s side-groups in the manner it prefers.

As a template, the scientists used the protein NikR (nickel-responsive repressor) from E. coli, a regulator that reacts to nickel ions. When NikR is loaded with nickel ions, it binds to a special DNA sequence. This represses transcription of the neighboring genes, which code for proteins involved in nickel uptake. If no nickel is present in the bacteria, NikR does not bind to the DNA.

The nickel ion is located in a binding cavity in which it is surrounded by a square-planar arrangement of binding groups. By using several mutation steps, the researchers generated a new protein that can bind uranium instead of nickel. Only three amino acids had to be changed. In the specially designed cavity, the uranyl group has six binding partners that surround it equatorially. In addition, there are spaces for the two terminal oxygen atoms of uranyl.

This NikR mutant only binds to DNA in the presence of uranyl, not in the presence of nickel or other metal ions. This confirms its selectivity for uranyl and may make it useful for the detection of uranyl and nuclear waste bioremediation. It also represents the first step towards developing potential protein- or peptide-based agents for treatment of uranium poisoning.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Seraphine V. Wegner et al. Engineering A Uranyl-Specific Binding Protein from NikR. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, DOI: 10.1002/anie.200805262

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Uranium Poisoning Treatment Developed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212112738.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2009, February 13). Uranium Poisoning Treatment Developed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212112738.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Uranium Poisoning Treatment Developed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212112738.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 25, 2014) Shipping containers have been piling up as America imports more than it exports. Some university students in Washington D.C. are set to get a first-hand lesson in recycling. Their housing is being built using refashioned shipping containers. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins