Nader Pourmand, Ph.D.
Director, UCSC Genome Technology Center,University of California, Santa Cruz
Biosensor and Single Cell Manipulation using Nanopipettes
Approaching sub-cellular biological problems from an engineering perspective begs for the incorporation of electronic readouts. With their high sensitivity and low invasiveness, nanotechnology-based tools hold great promise for biochemical sensing and single-cell manipulation. During my talk I will discuss the incorporation of electrical measurements into nanopipette technology and present results showing the rapid and reversible response of these subcellular sensors to different analytes such as antigens, ions and carbohydrates. In addition, I will present the development of a single-cell manipulation platform that uses a nanopipette in a scanning ion-conductive microscopy technique. We use this newly developed technology to position the nanopipette with nanoscale precision, and to inject and/or aspirate a minute amount of material to and from individual cells or organelle without comprising cell viability. Furthermore, if time permits, I will show our strategy for a new, single-cell DNA/ RNA sequencing technology that will potentially use nanopipette technology to analyze the minute amount of aspirated cellular material.
Andrey Panteleyev, Ph.D.
Vice Chair, Division of Molecular Biology, NBICS Centre-Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia
The system of PAS proteins (HIF and AhR) as an interface between environment and skin homeostasis
Regulation of normal skin functions as well as etiology of many skin diseases are both tightly linked to the environmental impact. Nevertheless, molecular aspects of skin-environment communication and mechanisms coordinating skin response to a plurality of environmental stressors remain poorly understood.
Our studies along with the work of other groups have identified the family of PAS dimeric transcription factors as an essential sensory and regulatory component of communication between skin and the environment. This protein family comprises a number of hypoxia-induced factors (HIF-alpha proteins), aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), AhR nuclear translocator (ARNT), and several proteins implicated in control of rhythmic processes (Clock, Period, and Bmal proteins). Together, various PAS proteins (and first of all ARNT – as the central dimerization partner in the family) control such pivotal aspects of cell physiology as drug/xenobiotic metabolism, hypoxic and UV light response, ROS activity, pathogen defense, overall energy balance and breathing pathways.
In his presentation Dr. Panteleyev will focus on the role of ARNT activity and local hypoxia in control of keratinocyte differentiation and cornification. His recent work revealed that ARNT negatively regulates expression of late differentiation genes through modulation of amphiregulin expression and downstream alterations in activity of EGFR pathway. All these effects are highly dependent on epigenetic mechanisms such as histone deacetylation. Characterisation of hypoxia as a key microenvironmental factor in the skin and the role of HIF pathway in control of dermal vasculature and epidermal functions is another major focus of Dr. Panteleyev’s presentation.
In general, the studies of Dr. Panteleyev’s laboratory provide an insight into the PAS-dependent maintenance of skin homeostasis and point to the potential role of these proteins in pathogenesis of environmentally-modulated skin diseases such as barrier defects, desquamation abnormalities, psoriasis, etc.
H S M Kort, J-W J Lammers, S N W Vorrink, T Troosters
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disabling airway disease with variable extrapulmonary effects that may contribute to disease severity in individual patients (Rabe et al. 2007). The world health organization predicts that COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030. Patients with COPD demonstrate reduced levels of spontaneous daily physical activity (DPA) compared with healthy controls (Pitta et al. 2005). This results in a higher risk of hospital admission and shorter survival (Pitta et al. 2006). Pulmonary rehabilitation can help to improve the DPA level, however, obtained benefits decline after 1â€“2 years (Foglio et al. 2007).
In order to maintain DPA in COPD patients after rehabilitation, we developed a mobile phone application. This application measures DPA as steps per day, measured by the accelerometer of the smartphone, and shows the information to the patient via the display of the mobile phone. A physiotherapist can monitor the patient via a secure website where DPA measurements are visible for all patients. Here, DPA goals can be adjusted and text messages sent.
Three pilot studies were performed with healthy students and COPD patients to test the application for usability, user friendliness and reliability with questionnaires and focus groups. Subjects also wore a validated accelerometer. For the Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) 140 COPD patients will be recruited in Dutch physiotherapy practises. They will be randomised in an intervention group that receives the smartphone for 6 months and a control group. Measurements include lungfunction, dyspnea, and exercise capacity and are held at 0, 3, 6 and 12 months.
Results and Discussion
The application was found to be useful, easy to learn and use. Subjects had no problems with health care professionals seeing information on their physical activity performance. They do find it important to be able to determine who can see the information. Correlations between the accelerometer and the measurements on DPA of the smartphone for steps per hour were 0.69 and 0.70 for pilot studies 1 (students) and 2 (COPD patients) respectively. The version of the application in pilot study 3 contained an error, which made correlations with the accelerometer unusable. The RCT study is now being executed.