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A fingerprint for genes
Date:3/5/2010

Planck scientists succeeded in measuring the role of genes in endocytosis within a cell with unprecedented accuracy. To achieve this, they conducted quantitative analyses of microscopic images on the basis of dozens of different parameters and assigned each gene a certain function in the process. "We scanned and mapped the activity of all genes of the human genome. As a result, we were able to compile a quantitative profile of each gene giving each gene an individual fingerprint, so to speak. This provides us with a more comprehensive understanding of how the various processes in the cell are integrated. This approach can now be applied to many different cellular mechanisms. We're well on the way to creating a 'virtual cell' by understanding all of the processes and different interactions", explains Marino Zerial.

New therapies call for new investigation strategies

This was made possible by a combination of numerous technologies. The Dresden-based scientists blocked each of the approximately 23,000 expressed human genes one by one with the help of small interfering RNA molecules (siRNAs) that silence the respective gene. Next they used fluorescent dyes to mark two proteins which the cells under investigation took up in their endosomes this made them visible to automated high-resolution microscopy and image-analysis software. Instead of analysing the microscopic images subjectively and on the basis of qualitative criteria, the scientists determined 62 different parameters for the cells and all visible endosomes in the images (multi-parametric image analysis). These criteria helped them to ascertain how blocking a gene affects endocytosis. They were therefore able to observe under the microscope how substance uptake in the cells changed if one of the human genes was inactivated.

"We developed a brand new strategy that combines numerous components into one big analysis system: a genomic RNAi screen, automated, high-resolution micr
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Contact: Marino Zerial
zerial@mpi-cbg.de
49-351-210-1100
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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