Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

More than Meets the Eye

Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Last Updated: Monday, May 28, 2012
Bookmark and Share
‘Transformer’ protein makes different sized transport pods.

These spheres may look almost identical, but subtle differences between them revealed a molecular version of the robots from Transformers. Each sphere is a vesicle, a pod that cells use to transport materials between different compartments.

The images, produced by Marco Faini from John Briggs’ lab at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), in Heidelberg, Germany, are the first high-resolution view of the 3-dimensional structure of such a pod.

They show a particular type of vesicle that is encased by a protein called COPI, and whose structure had never been seen before.

Several copies of the COPI protein attach to each other to form a coat around the vesicle’s membrane.

Briggs and colleagues were surprised to find that the COPI building blocks are capable of a ‘transformer’ act: they can change shape to connect to more or fewer copies of themselves.

So by changing the shape of individual COPI blocks, the cell could create vesicles of different shapes and sizes, for instance to transport different kinds of cargo.

Previously, scientists had been able to create and determine the structure of ‘cages’ formed by parts of the protein coats that encase other types of vesicles, but this study, published online in Science, was the first to obtain high-resolution images of complete vesicles, budded from a membrane.

The work was carried out in collaboration with the lab of Felix Wieland at Heidelberg University in Germany.

Further Information
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 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ 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 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

Finding Links and Missing Genes
A catalogue of large-scale genetic changes around the world.
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Ages Apart
Multifaceted approach measured how brain and liver age differently.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Iron Regulators Join War on Pathogens
Iron regulatory proteins (IRPs) play an important role in the body’s immune system.
Friday, July 17, 2015
EMBL Scientists Solve Decades-Old Cell Biology Puzzle
Behaviour of clathrin proteins, crucial for endocytosis, is clarified using new imaging techniques.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
It Runs in the Family
Distantly related viruses share a common machinery for replication.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
The Battle for Iron
Understanding anaemias of the chronically ill.
Saturday, February 07, 2015
Protecting us from Our Cells
Growth factor boosts natural defence against auto-immune disorders.
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Double Act: How a Single Molecule Can Attract and Repel Growing Brain Connections
The 3D structure of Netrin-1 bound to DCC shows Netrin-1 binds to two DCC molecules in different ways.
Saturday, August 09, 2014
Cancer by Remote-Control
Overlooked DNA shuffling drives deadly paediatric brain tumour.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Wired for Change
First steps of gene regulation evolution revealed.
Monday, August 05, 2013
Rigged to Explode?
Inherited mutation links exploding chromosomes to cancer.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Multi-tasking Protein Provides New Approaches for Anti-tuberculosis Drugs
Scientists from EMBL reveal new insights into the workings of enzymes from a group of bacteria including Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The Human Genome’s Breaking Points
Comprehensive catalogue uncovers genetic sequence of large-scale differences between human genomes.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
EMBL Scientists Uncover Counterpart of Cerebral Cortex in Marine Worms
Findings give an idea of what the most ancient higher brain centres looked like, and what our distant ancestors used them for.
Friday, September 03, 2010
EMBL Scientists Identify Proteins that Ensure Iron Balance
Researchers discover that newly found group of proteins are required for the functioning of mitochondria, the cell’s energy factories.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
The MaxSignal Colistin ELISA Test Kit from Bioo Scientific
Kit can help prevent the antibiotic apocalypse by keeping last resort drugs out of the food supply.
"Good" Mozzie Virus Might Hold Key to Fighting Human Disease
Australian scientists have discovered a new virus carried by one of the country’s most common pest mosquitoes.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Closing the Loop on an HIV Escape Mechanism
Research team finds that protein motions regulate virus infectivity.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
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
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos