Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How protein in teardrops annihilates harmful bacteria: Novel technology reveals lysozymes have jaws

Date:
January 19, 2012
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
A disease-fighting protein in our teardrops has been tethered to a tiny transistor, enabling scientists to discover exactly how it destroys dangerous bacteria. The research could prove critical to long-term work aimed at diagnosing cancers and other illnesses in their very early stages.

Rendering of lysozyme molecule.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Irvine

A disease-fighting protein in our teardrops has been tethered to a tiny transistor, enabling UC Irvine scientists to discover exactly how it destroys dangerous bacteria. The research could prove critical to long-term work aimed at diagnosing cancers and other illnesses in their very early stages.

Related Articles


Ever since Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming found that human tears contain antiseptic proteins called lysozymes about a century ago, scientists have tried to solve the mystery of how they could relentlessly wipe out far larger bacteria. It turns out that lysozymes have jaws that latch on and chomp through rows of cell walls like someone hungrily devouring an ear of corn, according to findings that will be published Jan. 20 in the journal Science.

"Those jaws chew apart the walls of the bacteria that are trying to get into your eyes and infect them," said molecular biologist and chemistry professor Gregory Weiss, who co-led the project with associate professor of physics & astronomy Philip Collins.

The researchers decoded the protein's behavior by building one of the world's smallest transistors -- 25 times smaller than similar circuitry in laptop computers or smartphones. Individual lysozymes were glued to the live wire, and their eating activities were monitored.

"Our circuits are molecule-sized microphones," Collins said. "It's just like a stethoscope listening to your heart, except we're listening to a single molecule of protein."

It took years for the UCI scientists to assemble the transistor and attach single-molecule teardrop proteins. The scientists hope the same novel technology can be used to detect cancerous molecules. It could take a decade to figure out but would be well worth it, said Weiss, who lost his father to lung cancer.

"If we can detect single molecules associated with cancer, then that means we'd be able to detect it very, very early," Weiss said. "That would be very exciting, because we know that if we treat cancer early, it will be much more successful, patients will be cured much faster, and costs will be much less."

The project was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the National Science Foundation. Co-authors of the Science paper are Yongki Choi, Issa Moody, Patrick Sims, Steven Hunt, Brad Corso and Israel Perez.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Y. Choi, I. S. Moody, P. C. Sims, S. R. Hunt, B. L. Corso, I. Perez, G. A. Weiss, P. G. Collins. Single-Molecule Lysozyme Dynamics Monitored by an Electronic Circuit. Science, 2012; 335 (6066): 319 DOI: 10.1126/science.1214824

Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "How protein in teardrops annihilates harmful bacteria: Novel technology reveals lysozymes have jaws." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120119143332.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2012, January 19). How protein in teardrops annihilates harmful bacteria: Novel technology reveals lysozymes have jaws. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120119143332.htm
University of California - Irvine. "How protein in teardrops annihilates harmful bacteria: Novel technology reveals lysozymes have jaws." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120119143332.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
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

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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