Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein synthesis can be controlled by light, opening way for new scientific, medical applications

27.06.2005


Proteins are the puzzle-pieces of life, involved in how organisms grow and flourish, but studying their complex biological processes in living systems has been extremely difficult. Now, a team of chemists and neurobiologists led by Timothy Dore at the University of Georgia and Erin M. Schuman at the California Institute of Technology has found a way to use light to regulate protein synthesis in specific locations.



The new method, which uses so-called "caged compounds" that can be turned on with light, could lead to more intricate studies of such important but poorly understood processes, such as protein synthesis in nerve synapses.

The research was published today in the journal Chemistry & Biology. Coauthors on the paper are Schuman, Michael Goard, Girish Aakalu, Carlo Quinonez and Jamii St. Julien, all of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology. Lesya Fedoryak from Dore’s lab is also an author of the paper, as is Stephen Poteet, now a medical student at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who participated in UGA’s Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Program in 2001.


The idea of "caged compounds" has been around for some 30 years. In the current application, the team attached a light-sensitive molecule called a chromophore to a bioactive molecule called an effector through a single covalent bond that inactivates the bioactive molecule. Exposing the caged compound to light releases the effector in its active form.

"It’s analogous to placing an animal in a cage to restrict its activity," said Dore, "but the term ’cage’ is really a misnomer because we are not actually placing a molecule inside of a molecule."

The team developed a caged anisomycin compound that can be activated by exposure to ultraviolet light or an infrared laser beam. (Anisomycin is an antibiotic that inhibits protein synthesis.) The new chromophore, called Bhc, is the only one sensitive enough to light that it can mediate light-induced protein synthesis inhibition in a living system.

While previous studies have focused on releasing molecules that activate biological events, little has been done in the area of regulating the inhibition of biological processes.

"Ultimately, we want to understand the role local protein synthesis plays in biological systems such as neurons," said Schuman. "When and where in the neuron is protein synthesis used to bring about changes? How does protein synthesis regulate synaptic strength and axonal outgrowth? These are questions we’d like to answer."

Another example of a process the new method can help clarify involves the role of protein synthesis in the development of an organism. Since stem cells in humans, for example, differentiate into skin, brain and muscle cells, among many others, researchers want to know the controlling mechanisms for how these cells are chosen for their specific roles.

"If we had a way to selectively abolish protein synthesis in subcellular compartments and observe the effects, then we could infer the role of local protein synthesis in development," said Dore.

Generally speaking, there are few research tools available that are location-specific, so the new method adds a potentially powerful tool for scientists. Often, manipulations are carried out on all parts of a sample, but researchers have learned that much of biological function is dependent on the specific location of a particular event.

While the new caged compound and its photoreactive properties may never be used for anything as complex as drug delivery, it may well serve a purpose in studying such areas as memory, brain function and even Alzheimer’s Disease.

"Our technique will enable scientists to conduct experiments aimed at understanding the mechanisms of learning and memory at the molecular and cellular level," said Dore.

The technique could also be used in drug discovery and development, though it is much more likely to be used in advancing knowledge about biological systems.

Kim Carlyle | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uga.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular Force Sensors
20.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht Foster tadpoles trigger parental instinct in poison frogs
20.09.2017 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>