Researchers perform fastest measurements ever made of ion channel proteins
The miniaturization of electronics continues to create unprecedented capabilities in computer and communications applications, enabling handheld wireless devices with tremendous computing performance operating on battery power. This same miniaturization of electronic systems is also creating new opportunities in biotechnology and biophysics. A team of researchers at Columbia Engineering has used miniaturized electronics to measure the activity of individual ion-channel proteins with temporal resolution as fine as one microsecond, producing the fastest recordings of single ion channels ever performed. Ion channels are biomolecules that allow charged atoms to flow in and out of cells, and they are an important work-horse in cell signaling, sensing, and energetics. They are also being explored for nanopore sequencing applications. As the "transistors" of living systems, they are the target of many drugs, and the ability to perform such fast measurements of these proteins will lead to new understanding of their functions.
The researchers have designed a custom integrated circuit to perform these measurements, in which an artificial cell membrane and ion channel are attached directly to the surface of the amplifier chip. The results are described in a paper published online May 1, 2013, in Nano Letters.
"Scientists have been measuring single ion channels using large rack-mount electronic systems for the last 30 years," says Jacob Rosenstein, the lead author on the paper. Rosenstein was a PhD student in electrical engineering at the School at the time this work was done, and is now an assistant professor at Brown University. "By designing a custom microelectronic amplifier and tightly integrating the ion channel directly onto the amplifier chip surface, we are able to reduce stray capacitances that get in the way of making fast measurements."
"This work builds on other efforts in my laboratory to study the properties of individual molecules using custom electronics designed for this purpose," says Ken Shepard, professor of electrical engineering at the School and Rosenstein's adviser. The Shepard group continues to find ways to speed up these single-molecule measurements. "In some cases," he adds, "we may be able to speed things up to be a million times faster than current techniques."
This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Source: Columbia University
- Fastest measurements ever made of ion channel proteinsfrom Science DailyMon, 20 May 2013, 17:00:20 EDT
- Researchers perform fastest measurements ever made of ion channel proteinsfrom PhysorgMon, 20 May 2013, 15:31:27 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Actions on climate change bring better health, study says
- Cheater, cheater: UGA study shows what happens when employees feel excluded at work
- Infant solar system shows signs of windy weather
- Study: Antifreeze proteins in Antarctic fishes prevent freezing…and melting
- Plant variants point the way to improved biofuel production
- Ancient mammal relatives were active at night 100 million years before origin of mammals
- Walking fish reveal how our ancestors evolved onto land
- New DNA study unravels the settlement history of the New World Arctic
- Electric current to brain boosts memory
- Radio telescopes settle controversy over distance to Pleiades