Exploring the Signaling Pathways of Cells

Posted on July 1, 2008  Comments (0)

New probe may help untangle cells’ signaling pathways

MIT researchers have designed a new type of probe that can image thousands of interactions between proteins inside a living cell, giving them a tool to untangle the web of signaling pathways that control most of a cell’s activities.

“We can use this to identify new protein partners or to characterize existing interactions. We can identify what signaling pathway the proteins are involved in and during which phase of the cell cycle the interaction occurs,” said Alice Ting, the Pfizer-Laubach Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemistry and senior author of a paper describing the probe published online June 27 by the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The new technique allows researchers to tag proteins with probes that link together like puzzle pieces if the proteins interact inside a cell. The probes are derived from an enzyme and its peptide substrate. If the probe-linked proteins interact, the enzyme and substrate also interact, which can be easily detected.

To create the probes, the researchers used the enzyme biotin ligase and its target, a 12-amino-acid peptide.

Related: Specific Protein and RNA Labeling in CellsUsing Bacteria to Carry Nanoparticles Into CellsMolecular Bioengineering and Dynamical Models of CellsThe Inner Life of a Cell (Animation)

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