Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New laser technique opens doors for drug discovery

Date:
March 17, 2011
Source:
Vanderbilt University
Summary:
Researchers have demonstrated that a new laser technique can be used to measure the interactions between proteins tangled in a cell's membrane and a variety of other biological molecules. These extremely difficult measurements can aid the process of drug discovery.

Patterns created by the red laser in the backscattering interferometer.
Credit: Daniel Dubois/Vanderbilt

Researchers have demonstrated that a new laser technique can be used to measure the interactions between proteins tangled in a cell's membrane and a variety of other biological molecules. These extremely difficult measurements can aid the process of drug discovery.

Related Articles


Scientists estimate that about 30 percent of the 7,000 proteins in a human cell reside in the cell's membrane, and that these membrane proteins initiate 60 to 70 percent of the signals that control the operation of the cell's molecular machinery. As a result, about half of the drugs currently on the market target membrane proteins.

Despite their importance, they are difficult to study. Individual membrane proteins are extremely hard to purify, so scientists have very little structural information about them. In addition, existing methods to measure their activity have serious limitations. Most existing assays remove the membranes from their natural environment or modify them in a variety of different ways, such as attaching fluorescent labels, in order to analyze membrane protein activity.

"In addition to being expensive and time-consuming, these modifications can affect the target membrane's function in unpredictable ways," said Vanderbilt Professor of Chemistry Darryl Bornhop, who developed the new technique.

By contrast, in an article published online in the journal Nature Biotechnology, Bornhop's research group and their collaborators at The Scripps Research Institute report that the laser-based technique, called backscattering interferometry (BSI), can precisely measure the binding force between membrane proteins and both large and small molecules in a natural environment.

This is a powerful tool and a major advance in measuring membrane protein interactions," said Lawrence Marnett, director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology. "This is a powerful tool and a major advance in measuring membrane protein interactions," said Lawrence Marnett, director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology. Marnett, who is also Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research, was not involved in the study but is planning on collaborating with the Bornhop group.

Lasers aid measurement

BSI is deceptively simple. It measures the binding force between two molecules mixed in a microscopic liquid-filled chamber by shining a red laser like those used in barcode scanners through it. When the geometry of the chamber is correct, the laser produces an interference pattern that is very sensitive to what the molecules are doing. If the molecules begin sticking together, for example, the pattern begins to shift.

In the new study, the researchers created synthetic membranes that contained a small protein, called GM1, that is a primary target that cholera toxins bind with in order to get into a cell. When they mixed these membranes with cholera toxin B, they measured a binding force consistent with that obtained by other methods.

The researchers performed similar validation tests with naturally derived membranes and three membrane proteins, one associated with breast cancer, another associated with pain and inflammation and the neurotransmitter GABA known to aid in relaxation and sleep and to regulate anxiety.

When they mixed the membranes containing each of these proteins with molecules known to bind with them, the BSI technique provided measurements that agreed with the values obtained by other methods, the scientists reported.

Vanderbilt has applied for and received three patents on the process and has several other patents pending.

The university has issued an exclusive license to develop the technology to Molecular Sensing, Inc. Bornhop is one of the founders of the start-up and serves as its chief scientist.

Vanderbilt research associate Amanda Kussrow and Michael Baksh, Mauro Mileni and M.G. Finn from The Scripps Research Institute contributed to the study, which was funded by awards from the National Institutes of Health, Joint Center for Innovative Membrane Protein Technologies and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael M Baksh, Amanda K Kussrow, Mauro Mileni, M G Finn, Darryl J Bornhop. Label-free quantification of membrane-ligand interactions using backscattering interferometry. Nature Biotechnology, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nbt.1790

Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University. "New laser technique opens doors for drug discovery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110315130140.htm>.
Vanderbilt University. (2011, March 17). New laser technique opens doors for drug discovery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110315130140.htm
Vanderbilt University. "New laser technique opens doors for drug discovery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110315130140.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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