Dressing up biology like a circuit board…

WHAT’S this then?

This is an electron-micrograph (a picture taken through an electron microscope), taken at 56,000x magnification. It also happens to have been taken by me. What you’re looking at is a filament of protein, called an ‘amyloid fibril’.

Nanowire filament
The straight fibril that runs from the centre of the picture to the the bottom-right, is 0.5 microns in length (about quarter of the length of an E. coli cell, or 1/2000 of a millimetre). Each of those dots is a sphere of gold that is 5 nanometres in width.

To understand something about amyloid, we need to do some very basic revision on what proteins are:

  • Some proteins make up the structure of your body’s tissues;
  • some act as cellular emails, enabling cells to talk to each other; and,
  • some are also known as enzymes, and perform almost all of the millions of biochemical reactions that result in you.

Continue reading “Dressing up biology like a circuit board…”