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Picture of the Day

Designing biological movement on the nanometer scale

Scientists report the successful design of molecules that change shape in response to pH changes. (pH is a chemical scale from basic to acidic.) The researchers set out to create synthetic proteins that self-assemble into designed configurations at neutral pH and quickly disassemble in the presence of acid. The results showed that these dynamic proteins move as intended and can use their pH-dependent movement to disrupt lipid membranes, including those on the endosome, an important compartment inside cells. This membrane-disruptive ability could be useful in improving drug action. Bulky drug molecules delivered to cells often get lodged in endosomes. Stuck there, they can't carry out their intended therapeutic effect.

Visit Website | Image credit: Ian Haydon/Institute for Protein Design