Sophisticated biomolecular motors have evolved in nature, where motor proteins actively control the delivery and assembly of materials within cells. In contrast, the development of synthetic nanomotors is in its infancy. Such nanomotors are currently explored for an increasing number of applications in hybrid bionanodevices. Along these lines, gliding motility assays, where reconstituted microtubule filaments are propelled over a substrate by surface-attached motor proteins, have been used to transport micro- and nanosized objects, such as small beads, quantum dots or DNA molecules. However, one prerequisite for controllable nanotransport is the reliable guiding of filament movement along predefined paths, a challenging task that has recently been achieved only via costly and labor-intensive topographical surface modifications. Researchers have now demonstrated a novel approach for the nanostructuring of surfaces with functional motor proteins. In contrast to all other current methods, their approach allows the three-dimensionally oriented deposition of proteins on surfaces, being the result of first binding them to the highly oriented and regulated structures of microtubules and then transferring them to the surface.
Dr. Stefan Diez, Group Leader Bionanotechnology and Optical Technology Development at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden/Germany, and his colleagues developed a very simple setup of microtubule guiding and transport systems. This highly-oriented deposition of proteins on surfaces will also allow novel sensing and detection applications.
Diez explained the novel approach to Nanowerk: "Other approaches to stamp proteins onto surfaces have the disadvantage that a lot of proteins denature during the process. In our method, the stamp is a natural substrate of the proteins to be stamped."
With regard to the reliable guiding of motile microtubule transporters along predefined paths, all recent approaches are costly and labor-intensive because they involve modifications of the surface topography.
"Our method demonstrates the possibility to get along with just patterned motors on planar surfaces - without the need for topographical changes" Diez says.
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By Michael Berger, Copyright 2006 Nanowerk LLC