Johns Hopkins researchers have used a chemical tool triggered by light to transport single molecules inside living organisms. The organisms can also be directed to specific spots at pre-fixed times.
The device offers control in guiding individual molecules, showing them how molecules in particular spots can impact cell behavior. It will also help scientists assess whether the cells will multiply, perish, move or divide. A research paper was published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on December 13.
A chemical triggered by light modified the previous technology for moving molecules around besides offering more control. Takanari Inoue, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell biology and member of the Center for Cell Dynamics in the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences says light can be controlled. Trapping the light allowed them to control interaction of molecules in a nano-space within the cell.
The team developed a way to start and restrict the molecular interactions in a confined space in the cell by binding a light-triggered chemical to a large molecule. The bond would break when a defined UV beam was beamed on it. This helped the chemical to penetrate the cell, compelling two varying and specific proteins in the cell to interact. Researchers used this mingling feature to study how particular cell proteins react when moved to fixed sites.
Special molecules were attached to the molecules to modify them so that interaction could be detected by the ripples formed. The modified proteins were implanted inside human skin cells. They were also placed in the tools treated by the light. A UV ray was beamed on 10% of a skin cell edge. Ripples were visible on the area exposed to the light.