Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biology, materials science get a boost from robust imaging tool: Collaborators give a new view of macromolecular systems

Date:
August 9, 2011
Source:
University of Oregon
Summary:
Shape and alignment are everything. How nanometer-sized pieces fit together into a whole structure determines how well a living cell or an artificially fabricated device performs. A new method to help understand and predict such structure has arrived with the successful use a new imaging tool.

Andrew H. Marcus is a professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon.
Credit: University of Oregon

Shape and alignment are everything. How nanometer-sized pieces fit together into a whole structure determines how well a living cell or an artificially fabricated device performs. A new method to help understand and predict such structure has arrived with the successful use a new imaging tool.

Coupling laser-driven, two-dimensional fluorescence imaging and high-performance computer modeling, a six-member team -- led by University of Oregon chemist Andrew H. Marcus and Harvard University chemist Alan Aspuru-Guzik -- solved the conformation of self-assembled porphyrin molecules in a biological membrane.

Porphyrins are organic compounds that are ubiquitous in living things. They carry mobile electrical charges that can hop from molecule-to-molecule and allow for nanoscale communications and energy transfer. They are also building blocks in nanodevices.

The new technique -- phase-modulation 2D fluorescence spectroscopy -- is detailed in a paper scheduled to appear online this week ahead of regular publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The breakthrough skirts the often-needed step of obtaining crystals of molecules that are being studied, said Marcus, a member of the Oregon Center for Optics, Materials Science Institute and Institute of Molecular Biology. Most functional biological molecules don't easily form crystals.

"Our technique is a workable way to determine how macromolecular objects assemble and form the structures they will in biological environments," Marcus said. "It's robust and will provide a means to study biological protein-nucleic acid interactions."

Work already is underway to modify the experimental instrumentation in the UO's stable and temperature-controlled High Stability Optics Lab to apply the research on DNA replication machinery -- one category of the best-known macromolecular complexes, which consist of nucleic acids and proteins that must be properly aligned to function correctly. "It's a strategy that will allow us to do two things: Look at these complexes one molecule at a time, and perform experiments at short ultraviolet wavelengths to look at DNA problems," he said.

In addition, the approach should be useful to materials scientists striving to understand and harness the necessary conformation of polymers used in the production of nanoscale devices. "In biology, large molecules assemble to form very complex structures that all work together like a machine," Marcus said. "The way these nanoscale structures form and become functional is an actively pursued question."

The technique builds on earlier versions of two-dimensional (2D) optical spectroscopy that emerged in efforts to get around limitations involved in applying X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance to such research. The previous 2D approaches depended on the detection of transmitted signals but lacked the desired sensitivity.

The new approach can be combined with single-molecule fluorescence microscopy to allow for research at the tiniest of scales to date, Marcus said. "With fluorescence, you can see and measure what happens one molecule at time. We expect this approach will allow us to look at individual molecular assemblies."

Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy supported the research. Marcus is a researcher in ONAMI, a collaboration involving the UO, Oregon State University, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland State University, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the state of Oregon and private industry.

The laboratory where the laser work opened in 2005, built with a $510,500 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and a $600,000 investment by the UO. Initially named the Laboratory for Quantum Control as part of the UO's Center for Optics, the basement lab allows researchers to probe and control the behavior of atoms, semiconductors and nanometer-thin metal films.

Geoffrey A. Lott, who earned a doctorate at the UO and is now with Boise Technology Inc. in Nampa, Idaho, and Alejandro Perdomo-Ortiz, a doctoral student in Harvard's department of chemistry and chemical biology, were lead authors on the paper. Additional co-authors were James K. Utterback, an UO undergraduate student in physics and 2009 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship recipient, and Julia R. Widom, a UO doctoral student and a 2010 recipient of a Rosario Haugland Chemistry Graduate Research Fellowship.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Oregon. "Biology, materials science get a boost from robust imaging tool: Collaborators give a new view of macromolecular systems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808152229.htm>.
University of Oregon. (2011, August 9). Biology, materials science get a boost from robust imaging tool: Collaborators give a new view of macromolecular systems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808152229.htm
University of Oregon. "Biology, materials science get a boost from robust imaging tool: Collaborators give a new view of macromolecular systems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110808152229.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Next Stop America for France's TGV?

Next Stop America for France's TGV?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 24, 2014) General Electric keeps quiet on reports it's in talks to buy French turbine and train maker Alstom. Ivor Bennett reports on what could be an embarrassing rumour for the French government, with business-friendly reforms proving a hard sell. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot

Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) President Obama briefly played soccer with a robot during his visit to Japan on Thursday. The President has been emphasizing technology along with security concerns during his visit. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Encourages Japanese Student-Scientists

Obama Encourages Japanese Student-Scientists

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) President Obama spoke with student innovators in Japan and urged them to take part in increased opportunities for student exchanges with the US. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
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