Biochem Blogs

Biochemistry blog, science writing

“Watch” lysozyme chopping bacterial cell wall


When nano first met biology


Using biological molecules in nanotechnology

by Xun Lu

Lysozyme is an enzyme that helps to protect us from getting bacterial infections because it can degrade and utilize the sugars in the bacterial cell wall. A good source of  lysozyme is human tears.

A single lysozyme molecule is so small that one can’t really see it with the naked eye or even under the most powerful microscope. However, scientists at UC Irvine now can use an electronic chip to record the dynamic motions of a lysozyme molecule hydrolyzing its favorite substrate in REAL TIME. It’s like using an iPod to monitor your pace during a workout except that the iPod only gives you an average rate. In contrast, this electronic chip shows the pace of a lysozyme molecule every 10 micro-seconds throughout its entire workout. Just as we hold the iPod to monitor our pace, the lysozyme molecule has to stick to the electronic chip so that its pace can be measured.

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