Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solving the riddle of nature’s perfect spring

Date:
March 3, 2011
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
Scientists have unravelled the shape of the protein that gives human tissues their elastic properties in what could lead to the development of new synthetic elastic polymers.

Scientists have unravelled the shape of the protein that gives human tissues their elastic properties in what could lead to the development of new synthetic elastic polymers.

University of Manchester researchers, working with colleagues in Australia and the United States, used state-of-the-art techniques to reveal the structure of tropoelastin, the main component of elastin.

Elastin allows tissues in humans and other mammals to stretch, for example when the lungs expand and contract for respiration or when arteries widen and narrow over the course of a billion heart beats.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed how evolution has triumphed where engineering has so far failed by generating a molecule with near-perfect elasticity that will last a lifetime.

"All mammals rely on elastin to provide their tissues with the ability to stretch and then return to their original shape," said researcher Dr Clair Baldock, from the University of Manchester's Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Matrix Research. "This high level of physical performance demanded of elastin vastly exceeds and indeed outlasts all human-made elastics.

"It is the co-ordinated assembly of many tropoelastins into elastin that gives tissues their stretchy properties and this exquisite assembly helps to generate elastic tissues as diverse as artery, lung and skin.

"We discovered that tropoelastin is a curved, spring-like molecule with a 'foot' region to facilitate attachment to cells. Stretching and relaxing experiments showed that the molecule had the extraordinary capacity to extend to eight-times its initial length and can then return to its original shape with no loss of energy, making it a near-perfect spring."

She added: "Elastics are used in applications as diverse as clothing, vehicles, tissue engineering and even space travel, so understanding how the structure of tropoelastin creates its exceptional elastic properties will hopefully enable the development of synthetic 'elastin-like' polymers with potentially wide-ranging applications and benefits."

Initiator and research project leader Tony Weiss, Professor in the School of Molecular Bioscience, The University of Sydney, added: "Tropoelastin is a tiny protein 'nanospring' in the human body. Our bodies assemble these nanosprings to put elasticity into tissues like skin, blood vessels and lung.

"Our finding is the result of more than a decade of international collaboration. Our scientific teamwork spans Australia, the UK, USA and Europe. Tropoelastin's extraordinary capacity to extend to eight-times its initial length and then return to its original shape, with no loss of energy, is nature showing us how to make an ideal nanospring."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Clair Baldock, Andres F. Oberhauser, Liang Ma, Donna Lammie, Veronique Siegler, Suzanne M. Mithieux, Yidong Tu, John Yuen Ho Chow, Farhana Suleman, Marc Malfois, Sarah Rogers, Liang Guo, Thomas C. Irving, Tim J. Wess and Anthony S. Weiss. Shape of tropoelastin, the highly extensible protein that controls human tissue elasticity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1014280108

Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "Solving the riddle of nature’s perfect spring." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301091452.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2011, March 3). Solving the riddle of nature’s perfect spring. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301091452.htm
University of Manchester. "Solving the riddle of nature’s perfect spring." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301091452.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) MIT developed a robot modeled after a cheetah. It can run up to speeds of 10 mph, though researchers estimate it will eventually reach 30 mph. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 15, 2014) New York officials unveil subway tunnels that were refurbished after Superstorm Sandy. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
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