Researchers at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have developed a new method by which proteins can be transported to a new location in a cell. The novel tool enables scientists to study the function of proteins depending on their position by using nanobodies. The tool can be used for a wide range of proteins and in various areas of developmental biology. The scientific journal eLife has published the results.
The research group of Markus Affolter is investigating the growth of the wings of the fruit fly Drosophila to understand which processes control organ development and growth. Proteins that control such growth processes are the focus of their investigations.
In this context, not only the composition of the proteins is important, but also their position which can influence protein function. The new nanobody tool of the Affolter research team allows the relocation of proteins and thus to study their function in a position-dependent manner.
Novel tool for all GFP-bound proteins
A repositioning of the proteins of interest requires a labeling with the green fluorescent protein (GFP). Subsequently, so-called anti-GFP nanobodies, small antibody fragments derived from camels, are then used to bind and to move the GFP-tagged proteins to a new site in the living organism. The nanobody itself is linked to a signal protein that defines the destination of the target protein.
Thus, the nanobody forces the GFP-tagged protein into a new position. “Even if we do not know exactly the composition and structure of a protein, we can label it with GFP and control the destination site by using nanobodies,” says Stefan Harmansa, one of the two first authors.
Artificial relocation with nanobodies
The researchers were able to transfer proteins to a new site, internal or external to the cell. “By transporting proteins to new locations, we can observe whether their function changes or not and whether development is affected,” says Ilaria Alborelli, also one of the first authors of the study.
So far, scientists have been restricted in relocating proteins. The new nanobody tool, however, makes it possible to easily and efficiently change the position of all GFP-tagged proteins and thus explore their functions. The Affolter group has already been successful in investigating the growth of Drosophila wings using this nanobody tool. By interfering with the signaling molecule Dpp in a position-dependent manner, the scientists have been able to show more precisely its influence on wing growth.
In the future, the new nanobody tool can be used for a wide variety of studies on organ growth and in various other areas of developmental biology. With this concept, the growth and the development of different cells and organs can be investigated in more detail.
The Affolter team also faces many new challenges. “We as developmental biologists are still confronted with urgent questions such as how an organism knows when it has to stop its growth. To put it succinctly, how does it work that arms or legs stop growing when they reach their correct length?”, says Stefan Harmansa. In the future, the novel tool may contribute to a better understanding of how organ growth is regulated.
Stefan Harmansa, Ilaria Alborelli, Dimitri Bieli, Emmanuel Caussinus and Markus Affolter
A nanobody-based toolset to investigate the role of protein localization and dispersal in Drosophila
eLife (2017), doi: 10.7554/eLife.22549
Prof. Dr. Markus Affolter, University of Basel, Biozentrum, tel. +41 61 207 20 72, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Heike Sacher, University of Basel, Biozentrum, Communications, tel. +41 61 207 14 49, email: email@example.com
Heike Sacher | Universität Basel
Bioenergy cropland expansion could be as bad for biodiversity as climate change
11.12.2018 | Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseen
How glial cells develop in the brain from neural precursor cells
11.12.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals
Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.
Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.
Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
03.12.2018 | Event News
11.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
11.12.2018 | Information Technology