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Yvonne Carts-Powell

Using laser light to manipulate proteins

Scatterings imageBy activating a protein called Rac (left), researchers caused the cell to protrude and summoned another protein to the area.

Our cells are ridiculously complex, containing a stew of proteins that can be turned on and off in order to alter the cell’s behavior. Researchers at the University of North Carolina recently described an optical technique that manipulates protein activity and location in living cells—which gives researchers a new tool for studying the fundamentals of protein function (Nature 461, 104). The technique makes use of a derivative of a protein called Rac1 that can be activated upon exposure to laser light; by manipulating the protein, researchers can directly influence cell motility.

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Publish Date: 01 November 2009


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