Researchers at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have developed a new technique using nanobodies. Employing the so-called “Morphotrap”, the distribution of the morphogen Dpp, which plays an important role in wing development, could be selectively manipulated and analyzed for the first time in the fruit fly. In the future, this tool may be applied for many further investigations of organ growth. The results of the study have been published in the current issue of “Nature”.
The two basic processes that control organ development are the regulation of growth and of the spatial pattern. The research group of Prof. Markus Affolter at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has now developed a method named “Morphotrap” to study wing development in the fruit fly.
Their results demonstrate that the signaling molecule Dpp, a so-called morphogen, influences growth in the center of the wing imaginal disc but not in the peripheral regions. It is the first time that an anti-GFP nanobody has been successfully employed in such an investigation. This tool also holds promise for future studies on organ development.
The new method “Morphotrap”: Nanobodies to study growth
Nanobodies are small antibody fragments derived from camels. They enable the research team of Markus Affolter to manipulate molecules in the living organism. The so-called “Morphotrap” method employs anti-GFP nanobodies. Using these Nanobodies, the functions of GFP-tagged proteins in living organisms can be studied faster and more effectively than by conventional methods.
“These anti-GFP nanobodies inhibit the dispersal of the morphogen Dpp at different locations in the wing. Therefore they allow us to identify the influence of Dpp spreading on wing growth,” explains Stefan Harmansa, the first author of the study.
Morphogen Dpp regulates growth in the middle of the imaginal disc
To determine the influence of the morphogen Decapentaplegic (Dpp) in more detail, the Affolter group examined the wing disc of the fruit fly, called the imaginal disc. This is the precursor tissue of the wing of the adult fly and serves as a model for studies on organ development.
“Our findings demonstrate that the morphogen Dpp only affects growth in the center of the imaginal disc. Growth continues in the periphery even when we fully block Dpp dispersal into this regions,” explains Harmansa. “Now, by employing anti GFP nanobodies, we have been able to show to which extent the morphogen Dpp determines the wing size and consequently we could disprove one of the two predominant theories in this field,” says Harmansa.
The fact that anti GFP-nanobodies can successfully be applied for research in complex living organism is a great achievement. Affolter also plans to apply this technique in future research: “In a next step, we will investigate at what time in development Dpp acts to control central growth. The correlation between the spatial and temporal influence of Dpp will provide new insights into organ growth and may uncover possible causes of organ malformation,” says Affolter.
Stefan Harmansa, Fisun Hamaratoglu, Markus Affolter & Emmanuel Caussinus
Dpp spreading is required for medial but not for lateral wing disc growth
Nature (2015), doi: 10.1038/nature15712
Prof. Dr. Markus Affolter, University of Basel, Biozentrum, tel. +41 61 267 20 72, email: email@example.com
Heike Sacher, University of Basel, Biozentrum, tel. +41 61 267 14 49, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy