Successfully developed nano 'computer'that can control protein functions

Successfully developed nano computer that can control protein functions
Creating nano-scale computers for precision medicine has long been the dream of many scientists and medical institutions. Now, for the first time, researchers from Pennsylvania State University in the United States have developed a nano "computer" that can control the functions of specific proteins involved in cell movement and cancer metastasis. The research, published in Nature Communications on the 16th, paved the way for the construction of complex devices for cancer and other diseases.
Professor Nicolai Doholian of the Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine and his colleagues created a transistor-like "logic gate" that can perform computational operations and control one output by multiple inputs.

Doolan said that this logic gate is an important milestone because it demonstrates the ability to embed conditions in proteins to manipulate and control their functions. This will bring the possibility of a deeper understanding of human biology and diseases, as well as the development of precision therapies.
The logic gate includes two sensor domains designed to respond to two inputs-light and the drug rapamycin. The research team targeted the protein focal adhesion kinase (FAK) because it is involved in cell adhesion and movement, which is the initial step in the development of metastatic cancer.
The researchers first introduced a rapamycin-sensitive domain called uniRapr into the FAK gene, which was previously designed and studied by the laboratory. Then, the researchers introduced the light-sensitive domain LOV2. After optimizing the two domains, the researchers combined them into a final logic gate design.
The research team inserted the modified gene into HeLa cancer cells and observed the cells in vitro using a confocal microscope. They separately studied the effect of each input on cell behavior, as well as the combined effect of the combined input.
Studies have found that not only can they use light and rapamycin to quickly activate FAK, but this activation leads to changes in the cells, thereby enhancing their adhesion and ultimately reducing mobility.
According to the researchers, this is the first demonstration that a functional nano-computer that can control cell behavior can be built in living cells.
 

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