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Fluorescent proteins illuminating biomedical research
Date:1/25/2009

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In yet another Nature Methods study, also published in November 2008, Dr. Verkhusha contributed a novel PAFP to a new method of viewing individual breast cancer cells for several days at a time, providing new details on how cancer cells invade surrounding tissue and reach blood vessels, a process called metastasis. "Mapping the fate of tumor cells in different regions of a tumor was not possible before the development of the photoswitching technology," explains John Condeelis, Ph.D., co-chair and professor of anatomy and structural biology and co-director of the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center.

In addition, Dr. Verkhusha has developed new types of fluorescent proteins for use in conventional fluorescent microscopy. These new fluorescent proteins, called fluorescent timers (FTs), can change their color from blue to red over a matter of hours. "These FTs will enable scientists to study the trafficking of cellular proteins and to provide accurate insight into the timing of intracellular processes, such as activation or inhibition of gene expression or protein synthesis," says Dr. Verkhusha.

Together with another Einstein scientist, Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of developmental & molecular biology, anatomy & structural biology, and medicine, Dr. Verkhusha employed the FTs to demonstrate for the first time how a protein called LAMP-2A, which scavenges cellular debris, is transported to intracellular organelles called lysosomes, where the debris is digested. Understanding this process, which maintains the health of cells and organs, may lead to treatments to keep elderly people's organs in prime condition. The findings were published in the January 11 issue of Nature Chemical Biology.


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Contact: Michael Heller
mheller@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-4186
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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