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Biotech News Science

Nanowires Inject Molecules Into Living Cells 45

TechRev_AL writes "A scientist at Harvard University has developed a clever trick for manipulating the insides of living cells. Hongkun Park grows cells on top of nanowires so that the wires poke into them like needles, which allows molecules to be delivered inside them. To use the nanowires to deliver molecules, Park's team first treats them with a chemical that would allow molecules to bind relatively weakly to the surface of the nanowires. Then they coat the wires with a molecule or combination of molecules of interest. When cells are impaled on the nanowires, the molecules are released into the cells' interior. This gallery of images shows the cells growing on top of the nanowires."
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Nanowires Inject Molecules Into Living Cells

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 14, 2010 @03:02AM (#30761568)

    M-Sec promotes membrane nanotube formation by interacting with Ral and the exocyst complex.

    Cell-cell communication is essential for the development and homeostasis of
    multicellular organisms. Recently, a new type of cell-cell communication was
    discovered that is based on the formation of thin membranous nanotubes between
    remote cells. These long membrane tethers, termed tunneling nanotubes (TNTs),
    form an intercellular conduit and have been shown to enable the transport of
    various cellular components and signals. However, the molecular basis for TNT
    formation remains to be elucidated. Here we report that a mammalian protein,
    M-Sec, induces de novo formation of numerous membrane protrusions extending from
    the plasma membrane, some of which tether onto adjacent cells and subsequently
    form TNT-like structures. Depletion of M-Sec by RNA interference (RNAi) greatly
    reduced endogenous TNT formation as well as intercellular propagation of a
    calcium flux in a macrophage cell line. Furthermore, blockage of the interaction
    of M-Sec with Ral and the exocyst complex, which serves as a downstream effector
    of Ral, attenuated the formation of membrane nanotubes. Our results reveal that
    M-Sec functions as a key regulator of membrane nanotube formation through
    interaction with the Ral-exocyst pathway.

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