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One-touch make-up -- for our cells

Date:
November 18, 2010
Source:
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Summary:
A new technique enables scientists to introduce up to 15 fluorescent markers to a mammalian cell in one go, and could help speed up drug development and screening.

Cells from a pig's cardiovascular system with different components labelled simultaneously, using the new MultiLabel technology.
Credit: Still image from video courtesy of P. Berger/PSI

A new technique developed by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Grenoble, France and collaborators enables them to introduce up to 15 fluorescent markers to a mammalian cell in one go, and could help speed up drug development and screening.

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Their work is published online in Nature Communications.

The cells in the different parts of a new video are always the same (grey), but, like actors using make-up to highlight different facial features, they have fluorescent labels that mark different cellular components in different colours: blue shows the nucleus, yellow shows tubulin (a component of the cell's scaffolding), red shows mitochondria, cyan shows the membranes of vesicles called endosomes, and purple shows other membrane structures. Instead of spending hours applying first one colour of make-up -- or fluorescent label -- and then another, scientists were able to create the equivalent of a make-up brush that is applied only once and highlights different features simultaneously.

The underlying technique was first developed by Imre Berger from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble, France, as part of a method called MultiBac, for expressing protein complexes in insect cells. In work published in Nature Communications, Imre Berger and Philipp Berger from the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland, joined forces to adapt this technology concept to mammalian cells like our own for the first time. It essentially involves rapidly engineering a single vector to deliver a theoretically unlimited number of foreign genes to a cell.

To date, the scientists have successfully delivered up to 15 genes in this way. The protein encoded by each of those genes can carry a fluorescent label, so this makes multiple labelling much more efficient than previous methods. The new labelling technique for mammalian cells, called MultiLabel, could help make drug development and screening considerably faster, since it allows scientists to precisely label many cellular components involved in a given disease process and follow them all at the same time.

Imre Berger's work is supported by the EC FP7 project P-CUBE, which provides access to state-of-the-art technology platforms at EMBL in Grenoble, Heidelberg and Hamburg.

A video is also available on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Po7gyPWqps


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrijana Kriz, Katharina Schmid, Nadia Baumgartner, Urs Ziegler, Imre Berger, Kurt Ballmer-Hofer, Philipp Berger. A plasmid-based multigene expression system for mammalian cells. Nature Communications, 2010; 1 (8): 120 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1120

Cite This Page:

European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "One-touch make-up -- for our cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101117094025.htm>.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. (2010, November 18). One-touch make-up -- for our cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101117094025.htm
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "One-touch make-up -- for our cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101117094025.htm (accessed January 28, 2015).

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