Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Duke Blue Light Controls Gene Expression

Published: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Bookmark and Share
New approach could greatly improve ability of researchers and physicians to control gene expression.

Using blue light, Duke University bioengineers have developed a system for ordering genes to produce proteins, an advance they said could prove invaluable in clinical settings as well as in basic science laboratories.

This new approach could greatly improve the ability of researchers and physicians to control gene expression, which is the process by which genes give instructions for the production of proteins key to all living cells.

"We can now, with our method, make gene expression reversible, repeatable, tunable, and specific to different regions of a gene," said Lauren Polstein, a graduate student working in the laboratory of Charles Gersbach, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "Current methods of getting genes to express can achieve some of those characteristics, but not all at once."

The new system can also control where the genes are expressed in three dimensions, which becomes especially important for researchers attempting to bioengineer living tissues.

"The light-based strategy allows us to regulate gene expression for biotechnology and medical applications, as well as for gaining a better understanding of gene function, interactions between cells, and how tissues develop into particular shapes," Polstein said.

The results of the Duke experiments were published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The research was supported by a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation and a Director's New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health.

The Duke system, which has been dubbed LITEZ (Light Induced Transcription using Engineered Zinc finger proteins), combines proteins from two diverse sources. The light-sensitive proteins are derived from a common flowering plant (Arabidopsis thaliana).

"We hijacked the specific proteins in plants that allows them to sense the length of the day," Gersbach said.

The second protein is in a class of so-called zinc finger proteins, which can be readily engineered to attach to specific regions of a gene. They are ubiquitous in biomedical research.

These new fusions of plant and zinc finger proteins are introduced into a colony of human cells growing in a Petri dish. The dish is placed atop a blue LED light display designed and built by Polstein. When the light is turned on, the part of the protein that turns genes on is recruited to whatever gene the researchers have targeted with the zinc finger protein and this gene "lights up."

"By placing a mask, or stencil over the cells, we can control which cells turn on the gene and which cells do not," Polstein said. "We can control the expression by turning the light on or off, changing the light's intensity, or varying the location of light."

As a whimsical example, the researchers created the iconic blue Duke "D" by covering the cells with a "D" mask.

"All biological systems depend on gene expression," Gersbach said. "The challenge facing bioengineering researchers is trying to synthetically recreate processes that occur in nature."

"LITEZ is a powerful tool that gives us precise control of gene expression with high resolution in both space and time," Gersbach said. "It also has the potential to be incorporated into different applications in medicine or industry, including gene therapy, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and biopharmaceutical production."

The researchers are now refining their approach to create complex tissues by controlling cell differentiation, as well as the morphology, or shape, of the tissues that these cells make.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Animals’ Genomic Buffers May Help Humans
Researchers at Duke University School of Medicine and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School have identified a mechanism that explains why some mutations can be disease-causing in one genome but benign in another.
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
New Gene Influences Apple or Pear Shape, Risk of Future Disease
Duke researchers have discovered that a gene called Plexin D1 controls both where fat is stored and how fat cells are shaped.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Bacterial Defense Mechanism Targets Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Gene therapy approach could treat 60 percent of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy patients.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Gene Required for Recovery from Bacterial Infection Identified
Duke researchers have uncovered the genes that are normally activated during recovery from bacterial infection in the C. elegans worm. The finding could be key to new antibiotics and countering auto-immune disorders.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Cancer-Fighting Drugs Might Also Stop Malaria Early
A number of compounds have been identified which could be used to fight malaria.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Cancer’s Thirst For Copper Can Be Targeted
Drugs used to block copper absorption for a rare genetic condition may find an additional use as a treatment for certain types of cancer.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Computational Methods Identify New Alloys
Duke University researchers have used computational methods to identify dozens of previously unknown platinum-group alloys.
Monday, January 06, 2014
Broad-Scale Genome Tinkering With Help of an RNA Guide
Duke researchers have devised a way to quickly and easily target and tinker with any gene in the human genome.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Recreating Natural Complex Gene Regulation
By reproducing in the laboratory the complex interactions that cause human genes to turn on inside cells, researchers have created a system they believe can benefit gene therapy research and the burgeoning field of synthetic biology.
Thursday, February 07, 2013
Genetic 'Tag Team' Keeps Cells on Cycle
Researchers uncovered new evidence that a network of influential genes acts as a kind of genetic tag team to the cell cycle.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Genomic Profiling of Lung Tumors Helps Doctors Choose most Effective Treatment
Determining the genetic profile of a particular lung tumor can help clinicians to decide about which chemotherapy treatment to try first.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Gene Regulation, not Just Genes, Sets Humans Apart
Duke researchers found variances in two major traits when they compared gene regulation in chimps, humans and rhesus macaques.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Genomic Analysis Uncovers new Targets for HIV Vaccine
Researchers have identified three gene variants in the DNA of 486 HIV infected people that appear to have helped some of the patients fight off the virus and delay the onset of full-blown AIDS.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Duke University Selects Illumina's Infinium HumanHap550 BeadChip
University's Center for Human Genetics selects the BeadChip for landmark Autism study.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Scientific News
Poor Survival Rates in Leukemia Linked to Persistent Genetic Mutations
For patients with an often-deadly form of leukemia, new research suggests that lingering cancer-related mutations – detected after initial treatment with chemotherapy – are associated with an increased risk of relapse and poor survival.
Searching Big Data Faster
Theoretical analysis could expand applications of accelerated searching in biology, other fields.
Growing Hepatitis C in the Lab
Recent discovery allows study of naturally occurring forms of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the lab.
Inciting an Immune Attack on Cancer Cells
A new minimally invasive vaccine that combines cancer cells and immune-enhancing factors could be used clinically to launch a destructive attack on tumors.
Reprogramming Cancer Cells
Researchers on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus have discovered a way to potentially reprogram cancer cells back to normalcy.
Genetic Overlapping in Multiple Autoimmune Diseases May Suggest Common Therapies
CHOP genomics expert leads analysis of genetic architecture, with eye on repurposing existing drugs.
Surprising Mechanism Behind Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Uncovered
Now, scientists at TSRI have discovered that the important human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, develops resistance to this drug by “switching on” a previously uncharacterized set of genes.
How DNA ‘Proofreader’ Proteins Pick and Edit Their Reading Material
Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered how two important proofreader proteins know where to look for errors during DNA replication and how they work together to signal the body’s repair mechanism.
Fat in the Family?
Study could lead to therapeutics that boost metabolism.
Tissue Bank Pays Dividends for Brain Cancer Research
Checking what’s in the bank – the Brisbane Breast Bank, that is – has paid dividends for UQ cancer researchers.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!