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Latest Biological membrane Stories

2012-03-21 15:30:04

Why does inhaling anesthetics cause unconsciousness? New insights into this century-and-a-half-old question may spring from research performed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Scientists from NIST and the National Institutes of Health have found hints that anesthesia may affect the organization of fat molecules, or lipids, in a cell's outer membrane–potentially altering the ability to send signals along nerve cell membranes. "A better fundamental...

2012-02-20 14:32:25

Lipids help control the development of cell polarity In a standard biology textbook, cells tend to look more or less the same from all sides. But in real life cells have fronts and backs, tops and bottoms, and they orient many of their structures according to this polarity explaining, for example, why yeast cells bud at one end and not the other. Over the last few years, Rong Li, Ph.D., and her team at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have figured out many important details of...

2012-01-26 02:13:47

Chemists have taken an important step in making artificial life forms from scratch. Using a novel chemical reaction, they have created self-assembling cell membranes, the structural envelopes that contain and support the reactions required for life. Neal Devaraj, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and Itay Budin, a graduate student at Harvard University, report their success in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. “One of our long...

2011-12-16 14:11:06

Opening up a new door in synthetic biology, a team of researchers has developed a microfluidic device that produces a continuous supply of tiny lipid spheres that are similar in many ways to a cell's outer membrane. "Cells are essentially small, complex bioreactors enclosed by phospholipid membranes," said Abraham Lee from the University of California, Irvine. "Effectively producing vesicles with lipid membranes that mimic those of natural cells is a valuable tool for fundamental biology...

2011-11-02 09:06:07

Neurofibrillary tangles — odd, twisted clumps of protein found within nerve cells — are a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The tangles, which were first identified in the early 1900s by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Aloysius Alzheimer, are formed when changes in a protein called tau cause it to aggregate in an insoluble mass in the cytoplasm of cells. Normally, the tau protein is involved in the formation of microtubules, hollow filaments that provide cells...

2011-10-10 09:11:11

Could controlling cell-membrane fat play a key role in turning off disease? Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago think so, and a biosensor they've created that measures membrane lipid levels may open up new pathways to disease treatment. Wonhwa Cho, distinguished professor of chemistry, and his coworkers engineered a way to modify proteins to fluoresce and act as sensors for lipid levels. Their findings are reported in Nature Chemistry, online on Oct. 9. "Lipid...

2011-09-23 11:59:42

Lianas whose stabilization rings of woody cells heal spontaneously after suffering damage serve as a natural example to bionic experts of self-repairing membranes. Such membranes could find use, for example, in rubber dinghies. Empa researchers have borrowed this trick from nature and developed a polymer foam surface coating with a closed cell construction which not only reduces the pressure loss after the membrane is damaged but also makes the inflatable structure more resistant and giving...

2011-08-01 14:35:14

The research group of Professor Pekka Lappalainen at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, has identified a previously unknown mechanism which modifies the structure of plasma membranes in intestinal epithelial cells. Unlike other proteins with a similar function, the new protein "“ named 'Pinkbar' by the researchers - creates planar membrane sheets. Further research investigates the potential connection of this protein with various intestinal disorders. The study was...

2011-07-20 13:12:20

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated* a measurement technique that reliably determines three fundamental mechanical properties of near-nanoscale films. The technique, which highlights the challenge of making mechanical measurements on an object with at least one dimension comparable to the size of a virus, should enable better design and engineering for a variety of thin-film technologies, particularly reverse-osmosis membranes for water...

2010-12-17 17:22:24

Rapid turnover and remodelling of lipid membranes could help phytoplankton cope with nutrient scarcity in the open ocean. A team led by Patrick Martin of the National Oceanography Centre has shown that a species of planktonic marine alga can rapidly change the chemical composition of its cell membranes in response to changes in nutrient supply. The findings indicate that the process may be important for nutrient cycling and the population dynamics of phytoplankton in the open ocean. Tiny...