New technique detects how proteins undergo changes inside a cell

In the September issue of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, scientists describe a new technique that can detect how proteins undergo changes inside a cell.

The technique promises to improve our understanding of how proteins inside cells work and identify how some proteins are not modified properly in common diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

In 2006, Ola Soderberg and colleagues established a technique called in situ proximity ligation assay (in situ PLA) to reveal protein-protein interactions in cells. The technique recognizes a target protein by binding a “probe” consisting of a pair of proteins attached to DNA onto the target protein. Then the DNA is replicated, producing a molecule that can be visualized under a microscope as a fluorescent spot – thus marking the presence of individual molecules in the target protein.

In the new study, Soderberg and colleagues developed a generalized version of the technique in which different probes can identify proteins that have undergone various changes in their structure. The researchers used this technique to detect a protein on the membrane of cells called platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta, which undergoes changes that will promote cell proliferation and movement. The technique is more sensitive and selective than other currently-used techniques, that is, it does not miss as many proteins as the other techniques do and the rate of mix-ups among the detected proteins is lower.

Article: “ In Situ Detection of Phosphorylated Platelet-derived Growth Factor Receptor Beta Using a Generalized Proximity Ligation Method,” by Malin Jarvius, Janna Paulsson, Irene Weibrecht, Karl-Johan Leuchowius, Ann-Catrin Andersson, Carolina Wahlby, Mats Gullberg, Johan Botling, Tobias Sjoblom, Boyka Markova, Arne Ostman, Ulf Landegren, and Ola Soderberg

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with over 11,900 members in the United States and internationally. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, nonprofit research institutions and industry. The Society's student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions.

Founded in 1906, the Society is based in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The Society's purpose is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through publication of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Journal of Lipid Research, and Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific work force.

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