Controlling proteins with light

Researchers have devised a way to control cell movement using flashes of blue light and have used the technique to uncover the function of a protein crucial to cell motility, they report online in linkurl:__Nature__;http://www.nature.com/ today (August 19th). "This is going to promote studies of cellular behavior and even of organismal behavior," linkurl:Keith Moffat,;http://moffat.bsd.uchicago.edu/index3.html?content=people.html a University of Chicago biophysicist who was not involved with th

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

View full profile.


Learn about our editorial policies.

Aug 18, 2009
Researchers have devised a way to control cell movement using flashes of blue light and have used the technique to uncover the function of a protein crucial to cell motility, they report online in linkurl:__Nature__;http://www.nature.com/ today (August 19th). "This is going to promote studies of cellular behavior and even of organismal behavior," linkurl:Keith Moffat,;http://moffat.bsd.uchicago.edu/index3.html?content=people.html a University of Chicago biophysicist who was not involved with the study, told __The Scientist__. "I think it's really cool, frankly."
Activation of the protein Rac in the
red circle (left) causes localized cell
protrusion and movement of another
protein PAK (shown in red at right)
to the cell edge

Image: Y.Wu, UNC-Chapel Hill
Other methods exist to control protein activity with light, but linkurl:Klaus Hahn,;http://www.pharmacy.unc.edu/faculty-research/faculty-directory/klaus-hahn a cell biologist and chemist at the University of North Carolina who led the research team, said that the method he and his colleagues developed is a big improvement. Previously,...




Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?