Slavko Kralj from the Department for Materials Synthesis with co-authors from Italy (Silvia Marchesan and others) published an article in ACS Nano Heterochirality and Halogenation Control Phe-Phe Hierarchical Assembly. By analogy with the current pandemic situation, the authors tried to understand the impact of “social distancing” at the nano level. The peptide diphenyl alanine (Phe-Phe) is an important basic building block of amyloid structures. The homochiral Phe-Phe forms toxic amyloid aggregates due to intermolecular hydrophobic (social) interactions. The authors found that the heterochiral Phe-Phe forms intramolecular (asocial) hydrophobic interactions, which, however, prevent hierarchical bundling into more complex anisotropic structures. The authors therefore showed that supramolecular nanostructures formed by self-assembly of heterochiral Phe-Phe do not exhibit amyloid toxicity to cells. The research thus reveals the importance of heterochirality of short peptides in supramolecular chemistry, which is an important basis for understanding peptide aggregation and amyloid formation.”
Matej Kanduč from the Department of Theoretical Physics and his collaborators published an article in ACS Nano with the title How the Shape and Chemistry of Molecular Penetrants Control Responsive Hydrogel Permeability in which they uncover the molecular principles of permeability and selectivity in hydrogels. The permeability of small molecules (drugs, toxins, reactants, etc.) through hydrogels is a central property in the design of soft functional materials in biomedical, pharmaceutical, and nanocatalysis applications. Using atomistic simulations, the authors found that dense hydrogels are extremely selective because of a delicate balance between the partitioning and diffusivity of the molecules. These properties are sensitively tuned by the molecular size, shape, and chemistry, leading to vast cancellation effects, which nontrivially contribute to the permeability. The outcomes can be used as approximate guiding (“rule-of-thumb”) principles to optimize penetrant or membrane physicochemical properties for a desired permeability and membrane functionality.
A new project, MAGNELIQ, "A MAGNETO-ELECTRIC LIQUID TO SENSE BETTER", was obtained at the Departments for Materials Synthesis and Complex Matter. The kick-off meeting took place on 12. and 13. 11. 2020. The project will combine experimental research and theoretical modelling to develop a, currently not-existing, magneto-electric liquid. New contactless sensor technologies based on magneto-electric liquids will be demonstrated, such as, miniature fully optical sensors of electric/magnetic field, and wireless distributed-force sensors for prosthetics. The total project value is 2.992.755 EUR. The project is coordinated by the Jožef Stefan Institute with the share of 973.695 EUR. Other project partners are: Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Czech Republic), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto Officina dei Materiali (Italy), University of Maribor, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (Slovenia) and a high-tech SME Prensilia SRL (Italy).
B3 - Department of Biotechnology and F4 - Department of Surface Technology of the Jožef Stefan Institute published an interdisciplinary study in the journal Biomaterials Science entitled Cold atmospheric plasma induces stress granule formation via eIF2α – dependent pathway. The paper reveals the complex mechanism of formation of stress granules in neurons after their exposure to atmospheric plasma, which is a known trigger of oxidative stress. The cellular medium, which is exposed to plasma and consequently enriched with various radicals, triggers the primary response of cells that manifests in the formation of stress granules in the cytoplasm. In plasma-treated cells, various signaling pathways are activated, one of which also involves phosphorylation of the eIF2α protein. Our study was the first to characterize plasma-induced stress granule formation, which increases the regenerative and metabolic capacity of cells and has the potential for use in tissue healing in regenerative medicine.