Navigation Links
Nanosensors made from DNA may light path to new cancer tests and drugs
Date:9/7/2011

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Sensors made from custom DNA molecules could be used to personalize cancer treatments and monitor the quality of stem cells, according to an international team of researchers led by scientists at UC Santa Barbara and the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

The new nanosensors can quickly detect a broad class of proteins called transcription factors, which serve as the master control switches of life. The research is described in an article published in Journal of the American Chemical society.

"The fate of our cells is controlled by thousands of different proteins, called transcription factors," said Alexis Valle-Blisle, a postdoctoral researcher in UCSB's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who led the study. "The role of these proteins is to read the genome and translate it into instructions for the synthesis of the various molecules that compose and control the cell. Transcription factors act a little bit like the 'settings' of our cells, just like the settings on our phones or computers. What our sensors do is read those settings."

When scientists take stem cells and turn them into specialized cells, they do so by changing the levels of a few transcription factors, he explained. This process is called cell reprogramming. "Our sensors monitor transcription factor activities, and could be used to make sure that stem cells have been properly reprogrammed," said Valle-Blisle. "They could also be used to determine which transcription factors are activated or repressed in a patient's cancer cells, thus enabling physicians to use the right combination of drugs for each patient."

Andrew Bonham, a postdoctoral scholar at UCSB and co-first author of the study, explained that many labs have invented ways to read transcription factors; however, this team's approach is very quick and convenient. "In most labs, researchers spend hours extracting the proteins from cells before analyzing them," said Bonham. "With the new sensors, we just mash the cells up, put the sensors in, and measure the level of fluorescence of the sample."

This international research effort organized by senior authors Kevin Plaxco, professor in UCSB's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Francesco Ricci, professor at the University of Rome, Tor Vergata started when Ricci realized that all of the information necessary to detect transcription factor activities is already encrypted in the human genome, and could be used to build sensors. "Upon activation, these thousands of different transcription factors bind to their own specific target DNA sequence," said Ricci. "We use these sequences as a starting point to build our new nanosensors."

The key breakthrough underlying this new technology came from studies of the natural biosensors inside cells. "All creatures, from bacteria to humans, monitor their environments using 'biomolecular switches' shape-changing molecules made from RNA or proteins," said Plaxco. "For example, in our sinuses, there are millions of receptor proteins that detect different odor molecules by switching from an 'off state' to an 'on state.' The beauty of these switches is that they are small enough to operate inside a cell, and specific enough to work in the very complex environments found there."

Inspired by the efficiency of these natural nanosensors, the research group teamed with Norbert Reich, also a professor in UCSB's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, to build synthetic switching nanosensors using DNA, rather than proteins or RNA.

Specifically, the team re-engineered three naturally occurring DNA sequences, each recognizing a different transcription factor, into molecular switches that become fluorescent when they bind to their intended targets. Using these nanometer-scale sensors, the researchers could determine transcription factor activity directly in cellular extracts by simply measuring their fluorescence level.

The researchers believe that this strategy will ultimately allow biologists to monitor the activation of thousands of transcription factors, leading to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying cell division and development. "Alternatively, since these nanosensors work directly in biological samples, we also believe that they could be used to screen and test new drugs that could, for example, inhibit transcription-factor binding activity responsible for the growth of tumor cells," said Plaxco.


'/>"/>

Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Scientists use nanosensors for first time to measure cancer biomarkers in blood
2. A London effort to develop point-of-care nanosensors for HIV diagnosis and monitoring
3. First global portrait of greenhouse gases emerges from pole-to-pole flights
4. TF beacons may light path to new cancer tests and drugs
5. Highlights of upcoming conference on aldosterone & the ENaC/Degenerin family of ion channels
6. Up from the depths: How bacteria capture carbon in the twilight zone
7. Weight loss without the hunger: Cornell scientists say eat a lighter lunch
8. The genome of mesopolyploid crop Brassica rapa sheds new light on the study of genome evolution
9. New imaging method sheds light on cell growth
10. New theory may shed light on dynamics of large-polymer liquids
11. Small molecules shed light on cancer therapies
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Nanosensors made from DNA may light path to new cancer tests and drugs 
(Date:11/15/2016)... , Nov 15, 2016 Research and ... Global Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... ... USD 16.18 Billion by 2021 from USD 6.21 Billion in 2016, ... Growth of the bioinformatics market is driven by the ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... offering. The report forecasts the ... at a CAGR of 12.28% during the period 2016-2020. ... analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the market ... also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued ... the Biometric Exit Program. The Request for Information (RFI), ... that CBP intends to add biometrics to confirm when ... , in order to deter visa overstays, to ... Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382209LOGO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/4/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... December 02, 2016 , ... ... innovative U.S.-owned and -operated small businesses in federally funded research and development is ... international society for optics and photonics . , As part of the National ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... , Dec. 2, 2016 More than $4.3 million ... Helix Medals dinner ( DHMD ). The gala was held at ... New York City and honored Alan Alda ... respectively, to health and medicine and the public understanding of ... in 2006, the event has raised $40 million for the ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... , ... ACEA Biosciences, Inc. announced today that it will be presenting updated ... World Conference on Lung Cancer 2016, taking place in Vienna, Austria December 3rd-8th. ... for AC0010 in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer harboring the EGFR T790M ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... , ... DrugDev believes the only way to achieve real change ... three tenets were on display at the 2nd Annual DrugDev User Summit (hosted by ... and site organizations to discuss innovation and the future of clinical research. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: