Thursday, March 29, 2007

Research

So what is it that I do on a daily basis? Basically, this:

mycells

The above is an example of one of my cells. All three of them are the same cell - to make an extremely complicated cellular/molecular story simple, I inject the DNA of the protein I want to study right into the nucleus of these sensory neurons (the nucleus is essentially that empty black space in the middle that you can see in the green picture). The DNA then gets translated into my protein, and is expressed in the cell.

Then I can manipulate various things and look at the results.

The DNA has this tag on it that makes it fluoresce in red under the confocal microscope. The green is a similarly tagged antibody that I use to look at some functions of the protein under various conditions. The last picture is a merge of red and green filters.

This is a gorgeous example of the neurites (cell processes) that grew in culture from one particular experiment:

neurites1

If you're bored already, I give you free and entirely understood permission to stop reading and/or let your eyes slowly glaze over as I so often do when my supervisor starts talking extensively over my head (which is a daily event).

The protein that I study is an atypical isoform of protein kinase C (PKC). This is a model which partially explains the role my protein may have in memory processes:

Facilitation1

That little question mark in the motor neuron is thought to be the role of PKCs.

So yeah, fun stuff isn't it? (Hey, I heard that!)

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4 Comments:

At 12:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh look, I've gone cross-eyed.

Those are some pretty nifty pictures and diagrams, Jo, but I'm curious as to the potential practical applications of such research. Would the research be valuable in the formulation of say, pharmaceuticals? To treat memory related conditions etc?

I may just be being dense.

hope you are well,
Andy Pandy

 
At 5:39 PM , Blogger John said...

Wow. Some of those words look familiar and even the diagram stirs memories of why I was never good at science...

Also in lack of my memory has something around here changed and when!

 
At 7:22 PM , Blogger Joanna said...

hey Andy :) Practical implications of these molecular kinds of research are limited, because there are infite steps from the cellular to the whole human being. But pharmaceuticals, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinsons drugs, are pretty common implications.

Yes John there are some differences around here, I changed my template :)

 
At 8:02 PM , Blogger Wally Banners said...

pretty and smart!

 

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