What is it about?

Biological systems, like proteins, can be incorporated in water droplets of very small size, called nanodroplets. This is a new way to study the structural changes of biomolecules that lead to the loss of their biologic activity. Using computer simulations, we studied a protein surrounded by a water nanodroplet and located inside the channels of a porous silica material.

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Why is it important?

We found that the water droplet containing the protein adheres to charged defects in the channel walls. In this way, the nanodroplet is immobilized, and the protein preserves its stucture. In particular, the structure of the active site is maintained, so the protein may preserve its biologic functionalities. This findings suggests that proteins in water droplets might be stabilized and stored inside porous silica materials.


The incorporation of proteins in porous materials has perspective applications in medicine and ultra-fast drug delivery. Our work is important because it shows that a protein in silica mesopores can maintain its biological activity thanks to the water nanodroplet, that acts as a protective shell for the delicate protein structure.

Gloria Tabacchi
university of insubria

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Confining a Protein-Containing Water Nanodroplet inside Silica Nanochannels, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, June 2019, MDPI AG,
DOI: 10.3390/ijms20122965.
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