Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Laser spotlight reveals machine 'climbing' DNA

Date:
October 26, 2012
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
New imaging technology has revealed how the molecular machines that remodel genetic material inside cells 'grab onto' DNA like a rock climber looking for a handhold.

Imaging the molecular machine MukBEF using flourescent tags attached to its component parts.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Oxford

New imaging technology has revealed how the molecular machines that remodel genetic material inside cells 'grab onto' DNA like a rock climber looking for a handhold.

Related Articles


The experiments, reported in this week's Science, use laser light to generate very bright patches close to single cells. When coupled with fluorescent tags this 'spotlight' makes it possible to image the inner workings of cells fast enough to see how the molecular machines inside change size, shape, and composition in the presence of DNA.

The Oxford team built their own light microscopy technology for the study, which is a collaboration between the research groups of Mark Leake in Oxford University's Department of Physics and David Sherratt in Oxford University's Department of Biochemistry.

The molecular machines in question are called Structural Maintenance of Chromosome (SMC) complexes: they remodel the genetic material inside every living cell and work along similar principles to a large family of molecules that act as very small motors performing functions as diverse as trafficking vital material inside cells to allowing muscles to contract.

The researchers studied a particular SMC, MukBEF (which is made from several different protein molecules), inside the bacterium E.coli. David Sheratt and his team found a way to fuse 'fluorescent proteins' directly to the DNA coding for MukBEF, effectively creating a single dye tag for each component of these machines.

Up until now conventional techniques of biological physics or biochemistry have not been sufficiently fast or precise to monitor such tiny machines inside living cells at the level of single molecules.

'Each machine functions in much the same way as rock-climber clinging to a cliff face,' says Mark Leake of Oxford University's Department of Physics, 'it has one end anchored to a portion of cellular DNA while the other end opens and closes randomly by using chemical energy stored in a ubiquitous bio-molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or 'ATP': the universal molecular fuel for all living cells.

'This opening and closing action of the machine is essentially a process of mechanical 'grabbing', in which it attempts to seize more free DNA, like the rock-climber searching for a new handhold.'

It is hoped that pioneering biophysics experiments such as this will give fresh insights into the complex processes which are vital to life, and pave the way for a whole new approach to biomedical research at the very tiny length scale for understanding the causes of many diseases in humans, and how to devise new strategies to combat them.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Badrinarayanan, R. Reyes-Lamothe, S. Uphoff, M. C. Leake, D. J. Sherratt. In Vivo Architecture and Action of Bacterial Structural Maintenance of Chromosome Proteins. Science, 2012; 338 (6106): 528 DOI: 10.1126/science.1227126

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Laser spotlight reveals machine 'climbing' DNA." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121026110747.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2012, October 26). Laser spotlight reveals machine 'climbing' DNA. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121026110747.htm
University of Oxford. "Laser spotlight reveals machine 'climbing' DNA." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121026110747.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. 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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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