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 One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | 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: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>