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Staff member

Annalisa Calò

Staff member publications

Venugopal A, Ruiz-Perez L, Swamynathan K, Kulkarni C, Calò A, Kumar M, (2023). Caught in Action: Visualizing Dynamic Nanostructures Within Supramolecular Systems Chemistry Angewandte Chemie 62, e202208681

Supramolecular systems chemistry has been an area of active research to develop nanomaterials with life-like functions. Progress in systems chemistry relies on our ability to probe the nanostructure formation in solution. Often visualizing the dynamics of nanostructures which transform over time is a formidable challenge. This necessitates a paradigm shift from dry sample imaging towards solution-based techniques. We review the application of state-of-the-art techniques for real-time, in situ visualization of dynamic self-assembly processes. We present how solution-based techniques namely optical super-resolution microscopy, solution-state atomic force microscopy, liquid-phase transmission electron microscopy, molecular dynamics simulations and other emerging techniques are revolutionizing our understanding of active and adaptive nanomaterials with life-like functions. This Review provides the visualization toolbox and futuristic vision to tap the potential of dynamic nanomaterials.© 2022 Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: electron-microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, in-situ, mechanical-properties, molecular simulations, nanostructures, polymerization, polymers, stimulated-emission, super-resolution microscopy, supramolecular chemistry, systems chemistry, water, Atomic-force microscopy, Liquid tem, Nanostructures, Super-resolution microscopy, Supramolecular chemistry, Systems chemistry


Deborde, Sylvie, Gusain, Laxmi, Powers, Ann, Marcadis, Andrea, Yu, Yasong, Chen, Chun-Hao, Frants, Anna, Kao, Elizabeth, Tang, Laura H., Vakiani, Efsevia, Amisaki, Masataka, Balachandran, Vinod P., Calo, Annalisa, Omelchenko, Tatiana, Jessen, Kristjan R., Reva, Boris, Wong, Richard J., (2022). Reprogrammed Schwann cells organize into dynamic tracks that promote pancreatic cancer invasion Cancer Discovery 12, 2454-2473

Abstract Nerves are a component of the tumor microenvironment contributing to cancer progression, but the role of cells from nerves in facilitating cancer invasion remains poorly understood. Here we show that Schwann cells (SCs) activated by cancer cells collectively function as Tumor Activated Schwann cell Tracks (TASTs) that promote cancer cell migration and invasion. Non-myelinating SCs form TASTs and have cell gene expression signatures that correlate with diminished survival in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. In TASTs, dynamic SCs form tracks that serve as cancer pathways and apply forces on cancer cells to enhance cancer motility. These SCs are activated by c-Jun, analogous to their reprogramming during nerve repair. This study reveals a mechanism of cancer cell invasion that co-opts a wound repair process and exploits the ability of SCs to collectively organize into tracks. These findings establish a novel paradigm of how cancer cells spread and reveal therapeutic opportunities.

JTD Keywords: dissemination, escape, mechanisms, progression, Perineural invasion


Albisetti, E, Calo, A, Zanut, A, Zheng, XR, de Peppo, GM, Riedo, E, (2022). Thermal scanning probe lithography Nature Reviews Methods Primers 2, 32

Thermal scanning probe lithography (tSPL) is a nanofabrication method for the chemical and physical nanopatterning of a large variety of materials and polymer resists with a lateral resolution of 10 nm and a depth resolution of 1 nm. In this Primer, we describe the working principles of tSPL and highlight the characteristics that make it a powerful tool to locally and directly modify material properties in ambient conditions. We introduce the main features of tSPL, which can pattern surfaces by locally delivering heat using nanosized thermal probes. We define the most critical patterning parameters in tSPL and describe post-patterning analysis of the obtained results. The main sources of reproducibility issues related to the probe and the sample as well as the limitations of the tSPL technique are discussed together with mitigation strategies. The applications of tSPL covered in this Primer include those in biomedicine, nanomagnetism and nanoelectronics; specifically, we cover the fabrication of chemical gradients, tissue-mimetic surfaces, spin wave devices and field-effect transistors based on two-dimensional materials. Finally, we provide an outlook on new strategies that can improve tSPL for future research and the fabrication of next-generation devices.

JTD Keywords: Beam lithography, Design, Feature size, Force microscope cantilevers, Mos2, Polymer, Silicon, Speed, Thermochemical nanolithography, Tip


Jain, A, Calo, A, Barcelo, D, Kumar, M, (2022). Supramolecular systems chemistry through advanced analytical techniques Analytical And Bioanalytical Chemistry 414, 5105-5119

Supramolecular chemistry is the quintessential backbone of all biological processes. It encompasses a wide range from the metabolic network to the self-assembled cytoskeletal network. Combining the chemical diversity with the plethora of functional depth that biological systems possess is a daunting task for synthetic chemists to emulate. The only route for approaching such a challenge lies in understanding the complex and dynamic systems through advanced analytical techniques. The supramolecular complexity that can be successfully generated and analyzed is directly dependent on the analytical treatment of the system parameters. In this review, we illustrate advanced analytical techniques that have been used to investigate various supramolecular systems including complex mixtures, dynamic self-assembly, and functional nanomaterials. The underlying theme of such an overview is not only the exceeding detail with which traditional experiments can be probed but also the fact that complex experiments can now be attempted owing to the analytical techniques that can resolve an ensemble in astounding detail. Furthermore, the review critically analyzes the current state of the art analytical techniques and suggests the direction of future development. Finally, we envision that integrating multiple analytical methods into a common platform will open completely new possibilities for developing functional chemical systems.

JTD Keywords: analytical techniques, dynamic self-assembly, high-speed afm, liquid cell tem, Analytical technique, Analytical techniques, Biological process, Chemical analysis, Chemical diversity, Complex networks, Cytoskeletal network, Dynamic self-assembly, High-speed afm, Hydrogels, In-situ, Liquid cell tem, Metabolic network, Microscopy, Nanoscale, Proteins, Self assembly, Supramolecular chemistry, Supramolecular systems, System chemistry, Systems chemistry


Calò A, Eleta-Lopez A, Ondarçuhu T, Verdaguer A, Bittner AM, (2021). Nanoscale wetting of single viruses Molecules 26,

The epidemic spread of many viral infections is mediated by the environmental conditions and influenced by the ambient humidity. Single virus particles have been mainly visualized by atomic force microscopy (AFM) in liquid conditions, where the effect of the relative humidity on virus topography and surface cannot be systematically assessed. In this work, we employed multi-frequency AFM, simultaneously with standard topography imaging, to study the nanoscale wetting of individual Tobacco Mosaic virions (TMV) from ambient relative humidity to water condensation (RH > 100%). We recorded amplitude and phase vs. distance curves (APD curves) on top of single virions at various RH and converted them into force vs. distance curves. The high sensitivity of multifrequency AFM to visualize condensed water and sub-micrometer droplets, filling gaps between individual TMV particles at RH > 100%, is demonstrated. Dynamic force spectroscopy allows detecting a thin water layer of thickness ⁓1 nm, adsorbed on the outer surface of single TMV particles at RH < 60%.

JTD Keywords: amplitude-modulation am-afm, atomic-force microscopy, capillary, force reconstruction, multifrequency afm, nanoscale wetting, persistence, reconstruction, relative-humidity, surfaces, tobacco mosaic virus (tmv), tobamovirus, transmission, water, Amplitude-modulation am-afm, Force reconstruction, Multifrequency afm, Nanoscale wetting, Tobacco mosaic virus (tmv), Tobacco mosaic virus (tmv), nanoscale wetting, Tobacco-mosaic-virus


Sanmartí-Espinal, Marta, Iavicoli, Patrizia, Calò, Annalisa, Taulés, Marta, Galve, Roger, Marco, M. Pilar, Samitier, Josep, (2017). Quantification of interacting cognate odorants with olfactory receptors in nanovesicles Scientific Reports 7, (1), 17483

This study aims to improve our understanding of the interaction between olfactory receptors and odorants to develop highly selective biosensing devices. Natural nanovesicles (NVs) from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, ~100 nm in diameter, carrying either the human OR17-40 or the chimpanzee OR7D4 olfactory receptor (OR) tagged with the c-myc epitope at their N-terminus, are presented as model systems to quantify the interaction between odorant and olfactory receptors. The level of expression of olfactory receptors was determined at individual NVs using a novel competitive ELISA immunoassay comparing the values obtained against those from techniques involving the solubilization of cell membrane proteins and the identification of c-myc-carrying receptors. Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) measurements on L1 Biacore chips indicate that cognate odorants bind to their Ors, thereby quantifying the approximate number of odorants that interact with a given olfactory receptor. The selectivity of OR17-40-carrying NVs towards helional and OR7D4-carrying NVs towards androstenone has been proven in cross-check experiments with non-specific odorant molecules (heptanal and pentadecalactone, respectively) and in control receptors.

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Dols-Perez, Aurora, Gramse, Georg, Calo, Annalisa, Gomila, Gabriel, Fumagalli, Laura, (2015). Nanoscale electric polarizability of ultrathin biolayers on insulator substrates by electrostatic force microscopy Nanoscale 7, 18327-18336

We measured and quantified the local electric polarization properties of ultrathin (~ 5 nm) biolayers on mm-thick mica substrates. We achieved it by scanning a sharp conductive tip (< 10 nm radius) of an electrostatic force microscope over the biolayers and quantifying sub-picoNewton electric polarization forces with a sharp-tip model implemented using finite-element numerical calculations. We obtained relative dielectric constants ?r = 3.3, 2.4 and 1.9 for bacteriorhodopsin, dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC) and cholesterol layers, chosen as representative of the main cell membrane components, with an error below 10% and a spatial resolution down to ~ 50 nm. The ability of using insulating substrates common in biophysics research, such as mica or glass, instead of metallic substrates, offers both a general platform to determine the dielectric properties of biolayers and a wider compatibility with other characterization techniques, such as optical microscopy. This opens up new possibilities for biolayer research at the nanoscale, including nanoscale label-free composition mapping.

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Caló, A., Reguera, D., Oncins, G., Persuy, M. A., Sanz, G., Lobasso, S., Corcelli, A., Pajot-Augy, E., Gomila, G., (2014). Force measurements on natural membrane nanovesicles reveal a composition-independent, high Young's modulus Nanoscale 6, (4), 2275-2285

Mechanical properties of nano-sized vesicles made up of natural membranes are crucial to the development of stable, biocompatible nanocontainers with enhanced functional, recognition and sensing capabilities. Here we measure and compare the mechanical properties of plasma and inner membrane nanovesicles ∼80 nm in diameter obtained from disrupted yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells. We provide evidence of a highly deformable behaviour for these vesicles, able to support repeated wall-to-wall compressions without irreversible deformations, accompanied by a noticeably high Young's modulus (∼300 MPa) compared to that obtained for reconstituted artificial liposomes of similar size and approaching that of some virus particles. Surprisingly enough, the results are approximately similar for plasma and inner membrane nanovesicles, in spite of their different lipid compositions, especially on what concerns the ergosterol content. These results point towards an important structural role of membrane proteins in the mechanical response of natural membrane vesicles and open the perspective to their potential use as robust nanocontainers for bioapplications.

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Calò, A., Sanmartí-Espinal, M., Iavicoli, P., Persuy, M. A., Pajot-Augy, E., Gomila, G., Samitier, J., (2012). Diffusion-controlled deposition of natural nanovesicles containing G-protein coupled receptors for biosensing platforms Soft Matter 8, (46), 11632-11643

Natural vesicles produced from genetically engineered cells with tailored membrane receptor composition are promising building blocks for sensing biodevices. This is particularly true for the case of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) present in many sensing processes in cells, whose functionality crucially depends on their lipid environment. However, the controlled production of natural vesicles containing GPCRs and their reproducible deposition on biosensor surfaces are among the outstanding challenges in the road map to realize practical biomolecular devices based on GPCRs. In this work we present the production and characterization of membrane nanovesicles from Saccharomyces cerevisiae containing heterologously expressed olfactory receptors - a member of the family of GPCRs - and study their deposition onto substrates used as biosensor supports. We show by direct observation with Atomic Force Microscopy that nanovesicles deposit and flatten without rupturing on glass substrates following approximately a diffusive law. We show that surface coverages larger than 20-25% of the substrate can be reproducibly achieved under practical nanovesicle concentrations and reasonable time scales, while keeping to the minimum the presence of background residuals coming from the nanovesicles production process. Surface chemistry modification of gold substrates indicates a higher affinity of natural nanovesicles for acid modified surfaces as compared to amino or alcohol modified surfaces. Present results constitute an important step in the practical realization of biosensor devices based on natural nanovesicles integrating G-protein coupled membrane receptors.

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