Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bionanomotors may be able to transport and manipulate molecules

Date:
February 4, 2010
Source:
Marshall University Research Corporation
Summary:
Scientists are conducting research that may lead to new ways to move or position single molecules -- a necessary step if man someday hopes to build molecular machines or other devices capable of working at very small scales. They have shown how bionanomotors can be used some day to move and manipulate molecules at the nanoscale.

A group of Marshall University researchers and their colleagues in Japan are conducting research that may lead to new ways to move or position single molecules -- a necessary step if man someday hopes to build molecular machines or other devices capable of working at very small scales.

Related Articles


Dr. Eric Blough, a member of the research team and an associate professor in Marshall University's Department of Biological Sciences, said his group has shown how bionanomotors can be used some day to move and manipulate molecules at the nanoscale.

Their research will be published in the Feb. 5 issue of the research journal Small.

"Being able to manipulate a single molecule under controlled conditions is actually a pretty big challenge," said Blough. "It's not quite the same, but imagine trying to pick up a single sewing needle off the ground with a huge steam shovel, and doing it so that you pick up the needle and nothing else. Or, to put it another way -- how do you manipulate something that is very tiny with something that is very big? We decided to try and get around this problem by seeing if it was possible to use single molecules to move other single molecules."

"What we are trying to replicate in the lab is something that nature has been doing for millions of years -- cells use bionanomotors all the time to move things around," he said.

Blough describes bionanomotors as naturally occurring tiny "machines" that convert chemical energy directly into mechanical work. A nanometer is about 1/100,000 the width of a human hair. A nanomotor is similarly sized and operates at the smallest of small scales.

"Our muscles are living proof of how bionanomotors can be harnessed to do useful work," he added.

In the lab, Blough and his colleagues used myosin -- a protein found in muscle that is responsible for generating the force of muscle contraction -- as the motor, and actin -- another protein isolated from muscle -- as the carrier.

Using a technique to make a pattern of active myosin molecules on a surface, they showed how cargo -- they used small beads -- could be attached to actin filaments and moved from one part of the surface to another. To improve the system, they also used actin filaments they had bundled together.

"When we first started our work, we noticed that single actin filaments moved randomly," said Dr. Hideyo Takatsuki, lead author of the journal article and a postdoctoral fellow in Blough's laboratory. "To be able to transport something from point A to point B effectively you need to be able to have some control over the movement.The actin filaments are so flexible that it is difficult to control their motion but we found that if we bundled a bunch of them together, the movement of the filaments was almost straight."

In addition, the team also showed they could use light to control the movement of the filaments.

"For a transport system to work efficiently, you really need to have the ability to stop the carrier to pick up cargo, as well as the means to stop transport when you arrive at your destination," added Takatsuki.

To control the movement, they chose to exploit the chemical properties of another molecule called blebbistatin.

"Blebbistatin is an inhibitor of myosin and can be switched on and off by light," Blough said. "We found that we could stop and start movement by changing how the system was illuminated."

According to Blough, the long-range goal of the team's work is to develop a platform for the development of a wide range of nanoscale transport and sensing applications in the biomedicalfield.

"The promise of nanotechnology is immense," he said. "Someday it might be possible to perform diagnostic tests using incredibly small amounts of sample that can be run in a very short period of time and with a high degree of accuracy. The implications for improving human health are incredible."

Blough added that although their recent work is a step forward, there is still a long way to go.

"A number of further advancements are necessary before bionanomotors can be used for 'lab-on-a-chip' applications," he said. "It's a challenging problem, but that is one of the great things about science -- every day is new and interesting."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Marshall University Research Corporation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Marshall University Research Corporation. "Bionanomotors may be able to transport and manipulate molecules." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100202111103.htm>.
Marshall University Research Corporation. (2010, February 4). Bionanomotors may be able to transport and manipulate molecules. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100202111103.htm
Marshall University Research Corporation. "Bionanomotors may be able to transport and manipulate molecules." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100202111103.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A California-based startup has designed new law enforcement technology that aims to automatically alert dispatch when an officer's gun is unholstered and fired. Two law enforcement agencies are currently testing the technology. (Oct. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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