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SFB Publication in Nature

Biophysicists resolve light-driven structural changes in a sodium pump on an atomic level and on chemically relevant timescales from femtoseconds to milliseconds. Together with international colleagues, SFB 1078 scientists Joachim Heberle and Igor Schapiro publish their results in the lastest issue of the journal Nature

News from May 22, 2020

How does a nerve impulse develop?

For the first time, scientists of FU Berlin, the Paul-Scherrer Institute in Switzerland and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem succeeded in taking high-resolution snapshots of the sodium pump in bacterial cells. Light-driven sodium pumps actively transport small cations across cellular membranes. These pumps are used by microorganisms to convert light into membrane potential. Time-resolved X-ray crystallography at the SwissFEL group of Jörg Standfuss and vis-IR spectroscopy at FU Berlin under the guidance of Joachim Heberle (project B3) in conjuntion with quantum mechanical calculations in the group of Igor Schapiro (Mercator Fellow) allowed to unravel the characterisctic changes of a protein essential for its catalytic function with highest spatial and temporal precision. These fundamental results may stimulate new approaches in energy sciences like in light-driven water oxidation and could also help to develop tailored tools in biomedical science like optogenetic tools with application in neuroscience.

Paper published in the 20 May 2020 issue of Nature:

Skopintsev, P., Ehrenberg, D., Weinert, T., James, D., Kar, R. K., Johnson, P. J. M., Ozerov, D., Furrer, A., Martiel, I., Dworkowski, F., Nass, K., Knopp, G., Cirelli, C., Arrell, C., Gashi, D., Mous, S., Wranik, M., Gruhl, T., Kekilli, D., Brünle, S., Deupi, X., Schertler, G. F. X., Benoit, R. M., Panneels, V., Nogly, P., Schapiro, I., Milne, C., Heberle, J., and Standfuss, J. (2020). Femtosecond-to-millisecond structural changes in a light-driven sodium pump. Nature. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2307-8

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