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How is a nerve impulse generated?

Electrostatic gating mechanism

Electrostatic gating mechanism

Biophysicists resolve light-induced structural changes of a sodium pump at highest temporal and spatial precision.

In collaboration with colleagues from Switzerland and Israel, scientists of the Collaborative Research Center "Protonation Dynamics in Protein Function" (SFB 1078) have succeeded in recording a sodium pump during its action.

News from May 22, 2020

By combining X-ray Free Electron Laser radiation from the new SwissFEL with experimental and theoretical spectroscopic techniques, the researchers were able to detect structural changes in the sodium pump with the highest temporal and spatial resolution. "For the first time, we were able to trace the dynamics of structural changes in proteins at the atomic level (0.2 nanometres) as well as over the entire chemical time range from femtoseconds to milliseconds," as one of the principle investigators and the spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Centre, Prof. Joachim Heberle said.

These fundamental findings shed more light on how the basis of nerve stimulation is generated by pumping sodium across the cellular membrane and provide impact for new methods in neurobiology. The research results have been published in the journal "Nature".

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Keywords

  • biophysics
  • collaborative research
  • physics research
  • protein function
  • protonation dynamics
  • research group Heberle
  • SFB 1078
  • sodium pump