Probing of receptors in live cells
Binding of drugs to receptors in live cells would provide the most realistic numbers for pharmacologists and a more reliable understanding of drug binding.  We are beginning to probe live cells to obtain binding data that we can use for evaluating the reliability of synthetic arrays for high throughput screening of drug candidates.  To the right is one example of a cell line we are studying (NeuroPure™ Primary E18 Rat Cortical Cells, obtained from Gene Therapy Systems, Inc.). We are collaborating with Professor Yamamura’s group in Pharmacology to probe delta-opioid receptors in live neurons as they bind to rhodamine-labeled enkephalins, which are designed and synthesized by Professor Hruby’s group in Chemistry.  We are investigating the use of single-molecule spectroscopy to probe binding constants and adsorption/desorption kinetics.

Students working on this project learn how to culture cells, chemically modify surfaces, use powerful methods in fluorescence microscopy, and study structure-function relations in binding.  Students get to see how their research in chemistry connects to biomedical research. A student can collaborate with scientists in companies developing drugs for the central nervous system and scientists studying the fundamentals of recognition between receptors and drugs.

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