Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Device Allows Scientists To Control Gene Activity Across Generations Of Cells

Date:
March 3, 2008
Source:
Rockefeller University
Summary:
Just as cells inherit genes, they also inherit a set of instructions that tell genes when to become active, in which tissues and to what extent. Now, researchers have built a device that, by allowing scientists to turn genes on and off in actively multiplying budding yeast cells, will help them figure out more precisely than before how genes and proteins interact with one another and how these interactions drive cellular functions.

Pausing cell division. Using a new device, scientists administer pulses of a gene-regulating chemical to budding yeast cells as they multiply.
Credit: Image courtesy of Rockefeller University

Just as cells inherit genes, they also inherit a set of instructions that tell genes when to become active, in which tissues and to what extent. Now, Rockefeller University researchers have built a device that, by allowing scientists to turn genes on and off in actively multiplying budding yeast cells, will help them figure out more precisely than before how genes and proteins interact with one another and how these interactions drive cellular functions.

Related Articles


“A slight disturbance in the abundance of a single protein can affect the functioning of a cell dramatically,” says Gilles Charvin, a postdoc who works with both Eric Siggia, head of the Laboratory of Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics, and Frederick Cross, head of the Laboratory of Yeast Molecular Genetics. “So, we wanted to devise a way to supply a single cell with a controlled pulse of protein at any time and then see how the cell would respond,” he says.

Although scientists have had the tools to track single cells and measure the protein levels within them, the new device allows scientists to track them for a longer period of time while not only monitoring but also controlling the activity of genes. The precision with which the device can track single cells also allows scientists to construct pedigrees, making it possible to compare gene activity from one cell to the next.

The device relies on electrovalves to control a flow of media, which travels through a tube and then diffuses across a porous membrane to reach the budding yeast cells. The cells are clamped between this membrane and a soft material, which forces them to bud horizontally without damage.

“That was the major design hurdle,” says Charvin. “To create a device in which cells don’t move, so that you can track hundreds of single cells for a long time — about eight rounds of cell division — which typically lasts 12 hours.”

In order to induce the activity of a gene, the researchers used inducer molecules that diffuse through the cell membrane and control DNA segments called promoters. The molecule’s presence silences the promoter, which silences the expression of the gene; the molecule’s absence, on the other hand, activates the promoter, which activates the gene to crank up the molecule’s production.

By exploiting this principle, the scientists showed that they could successfully turn specific genes on and off by controlling the flow of an inducer molecule called methionine. They observed that pulses as short as 10 minutes led to changes in protein levels that could be measured.

The group used this device to study the cell cycle by putting a gene that must be expressed for cells to divide under the control of the methionine promoter, and showed that budding yeast cells would stop and start dividing in perfect synchrony with alternating pulses of media that did and didn’t contain methionine. “Like slaves, the cells relied on the external pulse we gave them to figure out what to do next,” says Charvin. “We thought this was a pretty striking illustration of the capabilities of this device.”

Journal reference: Public Library of Science One 1: e1468 (January 2008) http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0001468


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University. "Device Allows Scientists To Control Gene Activity Across Generations Of Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080302163343.htm>.
Rockefeller University. (2008, March 3). Device Allows Scientists To Control Gene Activity Across Generations Of Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080302163343.htm
Rockefeller University. "Device Allows Scientists To Control Gene Activity Across Generations Of Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080302163343.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Brawling Pandas Are Violently Adorable

Brawling Pandas Are Violently Adorable

Buzz60 (Jan. 29, 2015) Video of pandas play fighting at the Chengdu Research Base in China will make your day. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Biofuels aren&apos;t the best alternative to fossil fuels, according to a new report. In fact, they&apos;re quite a bad one. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3-D Printed Wheelchair Helps Two-Legged Dog Learn to Run

3-D Printed Wheelchair Helps Two-Legged Dog Learn to Run

Buzz60 (Jan. 29, 2015) 3-D printing helps another two-legged dog run around with his four-legged friends. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the adorable video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

RightThisMinute (Jan. 28, 2015) From new-puppy happy tears to helpful-grocery-carrying-dog laughter, our four-legged best friends can make us feel the entire spectrum of emotions. Video provided by RightThisMinute
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