Scientists observe artificial nanofibers self-sorting into organized structures
The Greek goddess Psyche borrowed help from ants to sort a room full of different grains. Cells, on the other hand, do something similar without Olympian assistance, as they organize molecules into robust, functional fibers. Now scientists are able to see self-sorting phenomena happen in real time with artificial molecules.
The achievement, reported in Nature Chemistry, elucidates how two different types of nanofibers sort themselves into organized structures under artificial conditions.
“Basic cellular structures, such as actin filaments, come into being through the autonomous self-sorting of individual molecules, even though a tremendous variety of proteins and small molecules are present inside the cell,” says lead author Hajime Shigemitsu, a researcher in Itaru Hamachi’s lab at Kyoto University.
“Imagine a box filled with an assortment of building blocks — it’s as if the same type of blocks started sorting themselves into neat bundles all on their own. In living cells, such phenomena always happen, enabling accurate self-assembling of proteins, which is essential for cell functions.”
“If we are able to control self-sorting with artificial molecules, we can work toward developing intelligent, next-generation biomimics that possess the flexibility and diversity of functions that exist in a living cell.”