Tag Archives: Xueguang Shao

Grow inorganic functional nanomaterials—quantum dots—in the nucleus of live cells

I’m not sure that “transform[ing] cells into super cells, enabling them to do unimaginable thing,” as research Pang Dai-Wen says, is something that is necessary but he and at least one of his colleagues seem quite enthused by the prospect (you’ll find Pang’s quote in the press release which follows the news item).

An April 3, 2024 news item on phys.org announces the work, Note: Links have been removed,

National Science Review recently published research on the synthesis of quantum dots (QDs) in the nucleus of live cells by Dr. Hu Yusi, Associate Professor Wang Zhi-Gang, and Professor Pang Dai-Wen from Nankai University.

During the study of QDs synthesis in mammalian cells, it was found that the treatment with glutathione (GSH) enhanced the cell’s reducing capacity. The generated QDs were not uniformly distributed within the cell but concentrated in a specific area.

Through a series of experiments, it was confirmed that this area is indeed the cell nucleus. Dr. Hu said, “This is truly amazing, almost unbelievable.”

An April 3, 2024 Science China Press press release on EurekAlert, which originated the news item, fills in a few details,

Dr. Hu and his mentor Professor Pang attempted to elucidate the molecular mechanism of quantum dot synthesis in the cell nucleus. It was found that GSH plays a significant role. There is a GSH transport protein, Bcl-2, on the nucleus, which transports GSH into the nucleus in large quantities, enhancing the reducing ability within the nucleus, promoting the generation of Se precursors. At the same time, GSH can also expose thiol groups on proteins, creating conditions for the generation of Cd precursors. The combination of these factors ultimately enables the abundant synthesis of quantum dots in the cell nucleus.

Professor Pang stated, “This is an exciting result; this work achieves the precise synthesis of QDs in live cells at the subcellular level.” He continued, “Research in the field of synthetic biology mostly focuses on live cell synthesis of organic molecules through reverse genetics. Rarely do we see the live cell synthesis of inorganic functional materials. Our study doesn’t involve complex genetic modifications; it achieves the target synthesis of inorganic fluorescent nanomaterials in cellular organelles simply by regulating the content and distribution of GSH within the cell. This addresses the deficiency in synthetic biology for the synthesis of inorganic materials.”

While the synthesis of organic materials in cells remains predominant in the field of biosynthesis, this research undoubtedly paves the way for the synthesis of inorganic materials in synthetic biology. Professor Pang expressed, “Each of our advancements is a new starting point. We firmly believe that in the near future, we can use cell synthesis to produce nanodrugs, or even nanorobots in specified organelles. Moreover, we can transform cells into super cells, enabling them to do unimaginable things.” [emphasis mine]

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

In-situ synthesis of quantum dots in the nucleus of live cells by Yusi Hu, Zhi-Gang Wang, Haohao Fu, Chuanzheng Zhou, Wensheng Cai, Xueguang Shao, Shu-Lin Liu , Dai-Wen Pang. National Science Review, Volume 11, Issue 3, March 2024, nwae021, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nwae021 Published:: 12 January 2024

This paper appears to be open access.

Pushing molecular gastronomy boundaries to create new cooking techniques

Researchers are hoping to develop new cooking techniques eventually by looking closely at how chefs practice molecular gastronomy, From an Oct. 1, 2014 news item on phys.org,

One of the most iconic forms of avant-garde cuisine, also known as molecular gastronomy, involves the presentation of flavorful, edible liquids—like cocktails or olive oil—packaged into spheres. Now a team of scientists, in collaboration with world-renowned chef Ferran Adriá, is getting to the bottom of what makes these delectable morsels possible. Their findings appear in ACS’ The Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

For anyone who wants to see these edible liquids, there’s this demonstration by Ferran Adriá

An Oct. 1, 2014 American Chemical Society news release on EurekAlert, which originated the news item, provides a few more details about the research,

Christophe Chipot, Wensheng Cai and colleagues explain that the technique of “spherification” was invented 70 years ago but was popularized in avant-garde cuisine more recently by Adriá. The process of making the spheres involves packaging juice or other liquid ingredients in envelopes of calcium alginate, a gelatinous substance made mostly out of molecules extracted from brown seaweed. Although spherification has become a prominent technique in molecular gastronomy, no one had investigated the formation and stability of the alginates at the atomic level. Chipot’s team wanted to change that.

The researchers used classical molecular dynamics techniques to probe how alginate spheres form. Among other discoveries, they found that alginate chains spontaneously wrap like a net around liquid droplets and that calcium ions were key. They concluded that studies such as these, which bridge the gap between material science and avant-garde cuisine, could help chefs and food scientists rationally design the next generation of innovative cooking techniques.

The funds for this work came from a number of institutions (from the news release),

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Natural Science Foundation of Tianjin, China and the Cai Yuanpei program of the  [France?] Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et du Développement International.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

From Material Science to Avant-Garde Cuisine. The Art of Shaping Liquids into Spheres by Haohao Fu, Yingzhe Liu, Ferran Adrià, Xueguang Shao, Wensheng Cai, and Christophe Chipot. J. Phys. Chem. B, Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/jp508841p Publication Date (Web): September 15, 2014

Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society

The researchers have also made this image illustrating the transformation of a bowl of peas into a chemical mass and finally into a reconstructed, liquid pea available.