Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Proteomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

New Imaging Technique Captures Protein Vibrations

Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Using a technique based on terahertz near-field microscopy scientists have for the first time observed in detail the vibrations of lysozyme.

Like the strings on a violin or the pipes of an organ, the proteins in the human body vibrate in different patterns, scientists have long suspected.

Now, a new study provides what researchers say is the first conclusive evidence that this is true.

The team found that the vibrations, which were previously thought to dissipate quickly, actually persist in molecules like the “ringing of a bell,” says UB physics professor Andrea Markelz, wh0 led the study.

These tiny motions enable proteins to change shape quickly so they can readily bind to other proteins, a process that is necessary for the body to perform critical biological functions like absorbing oxygen, repairing cells and replicating DNA, Markelz says.

The research opens the door to a whole new way of studying the basic cellular processes that enable life.

“People have been trying to measure these vibrations in proteins for many, many years, since the 1960s,” Markelz says. “In the past, to look at these large-scale, correlated motions in proteins was a challenge that required extremely dry and cold environments and expensive facilities.

“Our technique is easier and much faster,” she says “You don’t need to cool the proteins to below freezing or use a synchrotron light source or a nuclear reactor — all things people have used previously to try and examine these vibrations.”

The findings appear in Nature Communications.

To observe the protein vibrations, Markelz’ team relied on an interesting characteristic of proteins: the fact that they vibrate at the same frequency as the light they absorb.

This is analogous to the way wine glasses tremble and shatter when a singer hits exactly the right note. Markelz explains: Wine glasses vibrate because they are absorbing the energy of sound waves, and the shape of a glass determines what pitches of sound it can absorb. Similarly, proteins with different structures will absorb and vibrate in response to light of different frequencies.

So, to study vibrations in lysozyme, Markelz and her colleagues exposed a sample to light of different frequencies and polarizations, and measured the types of light the protein absorbed.

This technique, developed with Edward Snell, a senior research scientist at HWI and assistant professor of structural biology at UB, allowed the team to identify which sections of the protein vibrated under normal biological conditions. The researchers also were able to see that the vibrations endured over time, challenging existing assumptions.

“If you tap on a bell, it rings for some time and with a sound that is specific to the bell. This is how the proteins behave,” Markelz says. “Many scientists have previously thought a protein is more like a wet sponge than a bell: If you tap on a wet sponge, you don’t get any sustained sound.”

Markelz says the team’s technique for studying vibrations could be used in the future to document how natural and artificial inhibitors stop proteins from performing vital functions by blocking desired vibrations.

“We can now try to understand the actual structural mechanisms behind these biological processes and how they are controlled,” she says.

“The cellular system is just amazing. You can think of a cell as a little machine that does lots of different things — it senses, it makes more of itself, it reads and replicates DNA, and for all of these things to occur, proteins have to vibrate and interact with one another.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Brain Equation: Subtract Protein, Generate Myelin-Making Cells
A new way to generate oligodendrocytes has potential to enhance treatments for brain injury, MS, Alzheimer’s and more.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Scientific News
Molecular Alarm Clock Wakes Resting Ovules
Study of fruit flies yields discovery of a molecular "alarm clock" that activates resting ovules.
Catching Proteins in the Act
Scientists can now observe light activated processes in proteins through the use of free-electron x-ray lasers.
Proteins Preserve Vital Genetic Data
Research has shown how two key proteins bring about the oragnization of chromosomes and our genome.
Signaling Molecule Regulates Release of the Hunger Hormone Ghrelin
Researchers at UT Southwestern have identified that the blocking release of the hormone ghrelin may mediate low blood sugar effect in children taking beta blockers.
Telomere Replenishment in Real Time
Researchers have visualised the process of telomere attachment to chromosomes through single-molecule imaging.
New Inflammatory Disease Discovered
NIH researchers have discovered a rare and potentially deadly disease - otulipenia - the mostly affects children.
World's Most In-Depth Study to Detect Alzheimer's Disease
A multisite team will see the most thorough and vigorous testing for Alzheimer's ever performed on volunteers.
Zika Proteins Responsible for Microcephaly Identified
Researchers have undertaken the first study to examine Zika infection in human neural stem cells from second-trimester fetuses.
Pinpointing Key Influenza-Fighting Immune Trigger
Immunologists have identified the protein trigger that recognises influenza virus infection in cells and triggers their death.
Uncovering Constructor Proteins
Scientists have discovered a new bacterial cell wall builder that could be a target for antibiotic development.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!