Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New technology illuminates protein interactions in living cells

While fluorescence has long been used to tag biological molecules, a new technology developed at Yale allows researchers to use tiny fluorescent probes to rapidly detect and identify protein interactions within living cells while avoiding the biological disruption of existing methods, according to a report in Nature Chemical Biology.

Proteins are commonly tagged using variants of the “green fluorescent protein” (GFP), but these proteins are very large and are often toxic to live cells. They also tend to aggregate, making them difficult to work with and monitor. This new methodology uses the fluorescence emitted by a small molecule, rather than a large protein. It gives researchers a less disruptive way to capture images of the intricate contacts between folded regions of an individual protein or the partnerships between proteins in a live cell.

“Our approach bypasses many of the problems associated with fluorescent proteins, so that we can image protein interactions in living cells,” said senior author Alanna Schepartz, the Milton Harris Professor of Chemistry, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at Yale. “Using these molecules we can differentiate alternative or misfolded proteins from those that are folded correctly and also detect protein partnerships in live cells.”

Each protein is a three-dimensional structure created by “folding” its linear chain of amino acids. Usually only one shape “works” for each protein. The particular shape a protein takes depends on its amino acids and on other processes within the cell.

... more about:
»GFP »Living »Protein »Technology »interactions

Schepartz and her team devised their new tagging system using small molecules, called “profluorescent” biarsenal dyes. These molecules easily enter cells and become fluorescent when they bind to a specific amino acid tag sequence within a protein. While these compounds have been used for about a decade to bind single proteins, this is the first time they have been used to identify interactions between proteins.

The researchers’ strategy was to split the amino acid tag for the dye into two pieces, locating each piece of the tag far apart in the chain of a protein they genetically engineered and expressed in the cells. Then they monitored cells exposed to the dye. Where the protein folded correctly, the two parts of the tag came together and the fluorescent compound bound and lit up. There was no signal unless the protein folded normally.

“This method of detection can provide important insights into how proteins choose their partners within the cell — choices that may be very different from those made in a test tube,” said Schepartz. She emphasizes that this technology does not monitor the process of protein folding — but, rather “sees” the protein conformations that exist at a given time.

“In theory, our technique could be used to target and selectively inactivate specific protein complexes in the cell, as therapy, or to visualize conformations at very high resolution for diagnostic purposes,” said Schepartz. She speculates that the technology could be applied to detection strategies that identify protein misfolding in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Janet Rettig Emanuel | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: GFP Living Protein Technology interactions

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>