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.
Satheesh Babu T. G., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Sciences, School of Engineering, Amrita University, Coimbatore, India
Nanomaterials for ‘enzyme-free’ biosensing
Enzyme based sensors have many draw backs such as poor storage stability, easily affected by the change in pH and temperature and involves complicated enzyme immobilization procedures. To address this limitation, an alternative approach without the use of enzyme, “non-enzymatic” has been tried recently. Choosing the right catalyst for direct electrochemical oxidation / reduction of a target molecule is the key step in the fabrication of non-enzymatic sensors.
Non-enzymatic sensors for glucose, creatinine, vitamins and cholesterol are fabricated using different nanomaterials, such as nanotubes, nanowires and nanoparticles of copper oxide, titanium dioxide, tantalum oxide, platinum, gold and graphenes. These sensors selectively catalyse the targeted analyte with very high sensitivity. These nanomaterials based sensors combat the drawbacks of enzymatic sensors.
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.
Anupama Natarajan, James Hickman and Peter Molnar
Novel Cell-Based Biosensors for High Throughput Toxin Detection and Drug Screening Applications
Over the last decade there has been focus on the development of cellbased biosensors to detect environmental toxins or to combat the threats of biological warfare. These sensors have been shown to have multiple applications including understanding function and behaviour at the cellular and tissue levels, in cell electrophysiology and as drug screening tools that can eliminate animal testing. These factors make the development of cell-based biosensors into high throughput systems a priority in pharmacological, environmental and defence industries (Pancrazio J J et al. 1999, Kang G et al. 2009, Krinke D et al. 2009). We have developed a high through-put in vitro cell-silicon hybrid platform that could be used to analyze both cell function and response to various toxins and drugs. Our hypothesis was that by utilizing surface modification to provide external guidance cues as well as optimal growth conditions for different cell types (Cardiac and Neuronal), we could enhance the information output and content of such a system. An intrinsic part of this study was to create ordered or patterned functional networks of cells on Micro-electrode arrays (MEA). Such engineered networks had a two-fold purpose in that they not only aided in a more accurate analysis of cell response and cell and tissue behaviour, but also increased the efficiency of the system by increasing the connectivity and placement of the cells over the recording electrodes. Here we show the response of this system to various toxins and drugs and the measurement of several vital cardiac parameters like conduction velocity and refractory period (Natarajan A et al. 2011)
Jeff Perry, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, University of California, Riverside
Combined Crystallography and SAXS Methods for Studying Macromolecular Complexes
Recent developments in small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) are rapidly providing new insights into protein interactions, complexes and conformational states in solution, allowing for detailed biophysical quantification of samples of interest1. Initial analyses provide a judgment of sample quality, revealing the potential presence of aggregation, the overall extent of folding or disorder, the radius of gyration, maximum particle dimensions and oligomerization state. Structural characterizations may include ab initio approaches from SAXS data alone, or enhance structural solutions when combined with previously determined crystal/NMR domains. This combination can provide definitions of architectures, spatial organizations of the protein domains within a complex, including those not yet determined by crystallography or NMR, as well as defining key conformational states. Advantageously, SAXS is not generally constrained by macromolecule size, and rapid collection of data in a 96-well plate format provides methods to screen sample conditions. Such screens include co-factors, substrates, differing protein or nucleotide partners or small molecule inhibitors, to more fully characterize the variations within assembly states and key conformational changes. These analyses are also useful for screening constructs and conditions that are most likely to promote crystal growth. Moreover, these high throughput structural determinations can be leveraged to define how polymorphisms affect assembly formations and activities. Also, SAXS-based technologies may be potentially used for novel structure-based screening, for compounds inducing shape changes or associations/diassociations. This is addition to defining architectural characterizations of complexes and interactions for systems biology-based research, and distinctions in assemblies and interactions in comparative genomics. Thus, SAXS combined with crystallography/NMR and computation provides a unique set of tools that should be considered as being part of one’s repertoire of biophysical analyses, when conducting characterizations of protein and other macromolecular interactions.