Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Let there be light: Researchers discover new technology for controlling proteins

Date:
May 3, 2010
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
Researchers in Germany have succeeded in constructing small protein fragments which can block the incorrectly regulated gene expression. The scientists developed a mechanism which allows these inhibitors to be switched on and off like a light switch.

Light switches the activity of the AP-1 transcription factor (blue-green) in living cells with the help of the inhibitor (red-yellow), which was modified using a special light-sensitive chemical adapter.
Credit: Image courtesy of Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

The reading of genes and the related procedure of producing cellular protein molecules are essential for the correct functioning of every cell. This process is called gene expression and is controlled by special protein molecules, so-called transcription factors. A change in these molecules is in most cases pathological, leading to diseases such as cancer.

A team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Katja Arndt from the Institute of Biology III of the University of Freiburg has succeeded in constructing small protein fragments which can block the incorrectly regulated gene expression. In collaboration with a team headed by Andrew Woolley, professor at the University of Toronto, the scientists developed a mechanism which allows these inhibitors to be switched on and off like a light switch.

The findings have now been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, whose editors have classified it as a "hot paper" due to its great significance for a rapidly developing area of research. The project was funded by the DAAD, the University of Freiburg's excellence cluster BIOSS (Centre for Biological Signalling Studies), and the FRIAS School of Life Sciences -- LifeNet.

The study described in the publication combines two independent developments: inhibitors constructed by Katja Arndt which regulate oncogenes (cancer genes), and chemical adapter molecules developed by Andrew Woolley's research group which can appear in two structural states depending on their wavelength. The chemical linkers can be coupled with the inhibitors and made to function like a light switch: In the lit state the inhibitor is „on" and thus active, and in the dark state the inhibitor is "off" and thus inactive. The researchers were able to control the activity of the oncogenic (cancer causing) transcription factor AP-1 (activator protein 1) using this switchable inhibitor. They discovered that even a basic condition for controlling gene expression can be controlled by light, namely the DNA binding process. The researchers were also able to switch the subsequent genes on and off by controlling the AP-1 transcription factor. By "turning on" the light they activated the inhibitor and blocked the expression, and by "turning off" the light they deactivated the inhibition.

The new technology has many potential areas of application. First of all, molecular light switches of this kind are interesting components for the switchboard of synthetic biology, a core element of BIOSS, because they make it easy to control synthetic signaling paths from outside. In addition, there are many potentially interesting uses for the newly developed light switches in systems biology. For example, they play a role in the investigation of temporally controlled biological processes, such as the appearance and recognition of anxiety. In medicine the light switches could be used as lead structures for new therapeutical approaches.

In addition to Prof. Dr. Katja Arndt and Prof. Dr. Andrew Woolley, Katharina Timm, doctoral student in the excellence cluster BIOSS, and Dr. Fuzhong Zhang from Andrew Wooley's group also participated in the study. Katja Arndt is a member of BIOSS and a junior fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, research institute of the University of Freiburg. She also works at the Institute of Biology III and recently accepted a chair in molecular biotechnology at the University of Potsdam.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fuzhong Zhang, Katharina A. Timm, Katja M. Arndt, G. Andrew Woolley. Photocontrol of Coiled-Coil Proteins in Living Cells. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/anie.201000909

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Let there be light: Researchers discover new technology for controlling proteins." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100430082020.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2010, May 3). Let there be light: Researchers discover new technology for controlling proteins. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100430082020.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Let there be light: Researchers discover new technology for controlling proteins." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100430082020.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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