Latest Cell membrane Stories

2009-09-13 12:41:26

Reveals shape-shifting atomic interactions; suggests mechanism and possible drug targets How much difference can a tenth of a nanometer make? When it comes to figuring out how proteins work, an improvement in resolution of that miniscule amount can mean the difference between seeing where atoms are and understanding how they interact. Case in point: New, improved-resolution views of a zinc transporter protein deciphered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory provide...

2009-09-03 15:29:30

As part of the intricate ballet of synaptic transmission from one neuron to the next, tiny vesicles "“ bubbles containing the chemical neurotransmitters that make information exchange possible"”travel to the tip of neurons (synapses), where they fuse with the cell's membrane (a process called exocytosis). The extra membrane is then captured in a process called endocytosis and recycled to form a new vesicle to enable the next cycle of release. Most important, exocytosis must be...

2009-08-11 16:35:00

Researchers in the United States and Spain have discovered that a tool widely used in nanoscale imaging works differently in watery environments, a step toward better using the instrument to study biological molecules and structures.The researchers demonstrated their new understanding of how the instrument - the atomic force microscope - works in water to show detailed properties of a bacterial membrane and a virus called Phi29, said Arvind Raman, a Purdue professor of mechanical...

2009-08-06 13:15:00

Yale University researchers have discovered how a protein within most cell membranes helps maintain normal cell size, a breakthrough in basic biology that has implications for a variety of diseases such as sickle cell anemia and disorders of the nervous system.Cell size is regulated by the balance of positively and negatively charged ions and other solutes in the fluid inside and outside cells, which in turn prevents water from moving across cell membranes and changing cell size. Changes in...

2009-07-29 14:31:00

Recycling is a critical component in the process of transmitting information from one neuron to the next, and a large protein called Tweek plays a critical role, said an international consortium of researchers led by Baylor College of Medicine (www.bcm.edu) in a report in the current issue of the journal Neuron.Fruit flies that lack the protein, named for the over-caffeinated character in the cartoon South Park, shake in a hyperactive manner, said Dr. Hugo Bellen, professor of molecular and...

2009-07-23 14:00:00

A new study by scientists at the University of Iowa shows why muscle membranes don't rupture when healthy people exercise.The findings shed light on a mechanism that appears to protect cells from mechanical stress. The study, which appears online July 20-24 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Early Edition, also helps explain why muscle damage is so severe when this mechanism is disrupted, which occurs in certain congenital and limb-girdle muscular...

2009-07-22 15:40:00

Applying biological molecules from cell membranes to the surfaces of artificial materials is opening peepholes on the very basics of cell-to-cell interaction.Two recently published papers by a University of Oregon biophysicist and colleagues suggest that putting lipids and other cell membrane components on manufactured surfaces could lead to new classes of self-assembling materials for use in precision optics, nanotechnology, electronics and pharmaceuticals.Though the findings are basic, they...

2009-07-08 13:40:00

Berkeley Lab scientists have shown how thousands of bacterial membrane proteins are able to assemble into clusters that direct cell movement to select chemicals in their environment.Self-assembling and self-organizing systems are the Holy Grails of nanotechnology, but nature has been producing such systems for millions of years. A team of scientists has taken a unique look at how thousands of bacterial membrane proteins are able to assemble into clusters that direct cell movement to select...

2009-06-29 09:55:00

Every cell lining the small intestine bristles with thousands of tightly packed microvilli that project into the gut lumen, forming a brush border that absorbs nutrients and protects the body from intestinal bacteria. In the June 29, 2009 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology (www.jcb.org), Matthew McConnell, Matthew Tyska, and colleagues now find that microvilli extend their functional reach even further using a molecular motor to send vesicles packed with gut enzymes out into the lumen to...

2009-06-25 14:10:00

In a landmark technical achievement, investigators in the Vanderbilt Center for Structural Biology have used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods to determine the structure of the largest membrane-spanning protein to date.Although NMR methods are routinely used to "take molecular pictures" of small proteins, large proteins "“ and particularly those that reside within the cell membrane "“ have been reluctant to smile for the camera.In the June 26 issue of Science, Charles...

Word of the Day
  • A spider.
  • Figuratively, a peevish, testy, ill-natured person.
'Attercop' comes from the Old English 'atorcoppe,' where 'atter' means 'poison, venom' and‎ 'cop' means 'spider.' 'Coppa' is a derivative of 'cop,' top, summit, round head, or 'copp,' cup, vessel, which refers to 'the supposed venomous properties of spiders,' says the OED. 'Copp' is still found in the word 'cobweb.'