Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers develop advanced 3D 'force microscope'

Date:
December 17, 2013
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
Researchers have developed a three-dimensional microscope that will yield unparalleled study of membrane proteins and how they interact on the cellular level. These microscopes could help pharmaceutical companies bring drugs to market faster.

Membrane proteins are the "gatekeepers" that allow information and molecules to pass into and out of a cell. Until recently, the microscopic study of these complex proteins has been restricted due to limitations of "force microscopes" that are available to researchers and the one-dimensional results these microscopes reveal. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have developed a three-dimensional microscope that will yield unparalleled study of membrane proteins and how they interact on the cellular level. These microscopes could help pharmaceutical companies bring drugs to market faster.

"Force microscopes are very different from the microscopes we used in biology class," said Gavin King, assistant professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Arts & Science at MU, and joint assistant professor of biochemistry. "Instead of using optics, force microscopes incorporate a tiny needle that gets dragged across the surface of the slide or specimen, similar to how a blind person reads Braille or comparable to the needle of an old record player. However, the one-dimensional, traditional method of studying membrane proteins through a force microscope -- while good -- only yields limited results," King said.

Normally, force microscopes measure the compression of the needle against the specimen by bouncing a single laser off the cantilever, or arm, that holds the microscopic needle in place. As the cantilever moves, it deflects light that is sent back to a highly advanced computer. There, the results are interpreted, giving researchers an idea of how the membrane proteins are interacting with the cell.

Usually, to determine membrane protein structure in detail, specimens must be crystallized, or frozen; therefore, the specimen cannot be studied as it would behave in the primarily liquid environment found in the body.

King and his fellow researcher, Krishna Sigdel, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physics, solved the problem by building their own force microscope that is able to study membrane proteins in conditions similar to those found in the body. Using a traditional one-dimensional force microscope as a guide, the team added an additional laser that measures the second and third dimensions of tip movement, giving researchers "real-time" access to the measurement of peaks and valleys in the membrane protein and dynamic changes in those structures.

"By adding a new laser that is focused from below, we essentially gave the force microscope two additional dimensions," King said. "Using this new laser, we collect the back-scattered light from not only the cantilever holding the needle, but also the tip of the needle that gives additional measurements. This added flexibility allows us to collect information faster and allows our microscope to work in near-native conditions in fluid like those found in the cell, yielding more realistic results."

King suggested that an advantage of three-dimensional force microscopy is that it allows for better interpretation of how a protein's dynamic shape also dictates its function. King said that by studying how the shape of proteins change, researchers can determine how drugs bind and interact with cells. Using membrane protein information, pharmaceutical companies can determine which molecules to pursue.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Gavin King et al. Three-dimensional atomic force microscopy: interaction force vector by direct observation of tip trajectory. NanoLetters, December 2013

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Researchers develop advanced 3D 'force microscope'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217134708.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2013, December 17). Researchers develop advanced 3D 'force microscope'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217134708.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Researchers develop advanced 3D 'force microscope'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217134708.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) The best funny internet cat videos are honoured at LA's Feline Film Festival. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) Green balls of algae washed up on Sydney, Australia's Dee Why Beach. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. 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:

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