Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using light to control cell clustering

Date:
February 12, 2013
Source:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Summary:
A new study pairs light and genetics to give researchers a powerful new tool for manipulating cells. Results of the study show how blue light can be used as a switch to prompt targeted proteins to accumulate into large clusters.

A new study pairs light and genetics to give researchers a powerful new tool for manipulating cells.
Credit: Image courtesy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

A new study from engineers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of California, Berkeley, pairs light and genetics to give researchers a powerful new tool for manipulating cells. Results of the study, published in the journal Nature Methods, show how blue light can be used as a switch to prompt targeted proteins to accumulate into large clusters.

This process of clustering, or oligomerization, is commonly employed by nature to turn on or turn off specific signaling pathways used in cells' complex system of communications. The new study details how this process can be replicated with great precision, giving researchers new capabilities to control and influence the process of oligomerization and cell signaling.

Ravi Kane, the P.K. Lashmet Professor in the Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and faculty member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer, co-led the study with Professor David Schaffer of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the UC Berkeley.

"Our study shows a new use for using energy, in this case light, as a tool to understand and control cellular function. In this study, we demonstrated a new method for turning specific cell signaling pathways on and off with spatial and temporal precision, and use this to help better understand the dynamics of the pathway. At the same time, our technique can be used to control certain cell functions," Kane and Schaffer said.

Looking ahead, Kane said, it is possible the new process may also one day be able to help optimize cellular function and produce products of interest to energy production, such as biofuels.

Results of the study, titled "Optogenetic protein clustering and signaling activation in mammalian cells," were published online last week by Nature Methods and will appear in a future print edition of the journal.

Light is an attractive tool to manipulate oligomerization, Kane said, because of three properties: most biological cells do not normally react or respond to light; light is easy to make; and researchers can easily control light properties including its color and intensity. In this new study, the research team shined blue light onto cells containing a bioengineered protein, and by doing so they were able to activate cell signaling more effectively than they could using the natural ligand Wnt3a. This protein clustering induced by shining light was reversible -- upon removing the blue light, the cluster broke up within a few minutes. The researchers also demonstrated how to use this modular technique to cluster proteins that control cell shape.

"The new process can be applied to many different types of proteins, signaling pathways, and cells," said study co-author Lukasz Bugaj, graduate student at UC Berkeley. The research team plans to continue investigating new ways of controlling different aspects of cells and cellular function with light.

Along with Kane, Schaffer, and Bugaj, co-authors of the paper are UC Berkeley graduate student Colin Mesuda and research assistant Atri Choksi.

This study was made possible with support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lukasz J Bugaj, Atri T Choksi, Colin K Mesuda, Ravi S Kane, David V Schaffer. Optogenetic protein clustering and signaling activation in mammalian cells. Nature Methods, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.2360

Cite This Page:

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). "Using light to control cell clustering." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212121745.htm>.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). (2013, February 12). Using light to control cell clustering. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212121745.htm
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). "Using light to control cell clustering." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212121745.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) 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