Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UCLA Scientists Eavesdrop On Cellular Conversations By Making Mice "Glow" With Firefly Protein

Date:
November 14, 2002
Source:
University Of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
UCLA scientists coupled the protein that makes fireflies glow with a device similar to a home video camera to eavesdrop on cellular conversations in living mice. Reported in the Nov. 11 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, their findings may speed development of new drugs for cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurological diseases.

UCLA scientists coupled the protein that makes fireflies glow with a device similar to a home video camera to eavesdrop on cellular conversations in living mice. Reported in the Nov. 11 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, their findings may speed development of new drugs for cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurological diseases.

Related Articles


Led by Dr. Sanjiv Gambhir, UCLA associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology and director of the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, the team's research will allow scientists to study how cellular proteins talk to one another. These communications trigger changes that regulate a healthy body and cause disease when the signals go awry.

Gambhir and his colleagues used an optical camera equipped with the same kind of computer chip used in home video cameras to convert light into electrons. The team injected luciferase, the protein that makes fireflies glow, into cells, then injected the cells into the mouse.

They saw a remarkable sight. Each time two specific proteins spoke with each other, it activated the luciferase. The luciferase illuminated under the camera and produced brilliant flashes of light in the mouse.

"The mouse literally glowed under the camera," said Gambhir, a member of the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center. "We 'heard' the proteins 'talk' by watching the communication pathways come to life."

"In the past, we had to extract an individual cell from an animal and use a microscope to study how cellular proteins communicated with each other," Gambhir said. "Now we can watch proteins in the same cell talking to each other in their natural setting."

"It's similar to when the switchboard operator used to eavesdrop on people's telephone conversations," he said. "Our technique enables us to listen in on multiple conversations in cells taking place deep within a living animal."

According to Gambhir, the discovery will enable researchers to create and evaluate new ways of treating human disease. "Human disease is often caused by a single misfiring during a series of intracellular communications," he said. "If we can understand and monitor what goes wrong, we may be able to develop drugs to block or improve cells' ability to process their proteins' internal conversations."

Cells rely on receptors that line their surfaces to communicate between the external world and their internal environment. Functioning like baseball catchers' mitts, the receptors continually grab and release different hormones and molecules that influence cellular communication activity.

"A cell receptor has no voice or vocal cord," Gambhir said. "It must plug into the cell's protein network to speak. One protein moves and acts on another, which sets off a chain reaction of conversations. Finally, the message reaches deep into the nucleus and tells the cells' genes what to do."

Gambhir said that the new system could be used to test drugs that target protein-to-protein interactions in mice or advance medical research with a new breed of mice that indicates when intracellular interactions take place. The method is non-invasive and does not harm or cause pain to the mouse.

"This technique can help us better understand the processes of many human diseases," Gambhir said. "For example, we can image new drugs for cancer that halt cell division and actually see whether or not they work in the living body. If the drugs don't stop cell growth, we can design better drugs and test them under the camera. The possibilities are endless."

The National Cancer Institute and Department of Energy funded the study. Gambhir's co-authors included R. Paulmurugan from UCLA and Y. Umezawa from the University of Tokyo.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Los Angeles. "UCLA Scientists Eavesdrop On Cellular Conversations By Making Mice "Glow" With Firefly Protein." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021114071623.htm>.
University Of California - Los Angeles. (2002, November 14). UCLA Scientists Eavesdrop On Cellular Conversations By Making Mice "Glow" With Firefly Protein. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021114071623.htm
University Of California - Los Angeles. "UCLA Scientists Eavesdrop On Cellular Conversations By Making Mice "Glow" With Firefly Protein." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021114071623.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

Buzz60 (Jan. 23, 2015) Some &apos;healthy&apos; foods are actually fattening. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) shines a light on the sneaky foods like nuts, seeds, granola, trail mix, avocados, guacamole, olive oil, peanut butter, fruit juices and salads that are good for you...but not so much for your waistline. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins