Saturday 1 June 2013

How do Parkinson's researchers discover new knowledge? Part 5

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

TOOL 5 – Protein interactions

Proteins interact with each other in a vast network of Chinese whispers to activate, repress and control the many functions of a cell. The affect of the mutation may be to disrupt the interactions the protein normally has in the absence of the mutation. How is this studied?

Two genes (a and b) are copied by PCR and inserted into separate expression plasmids. When in cells the plasmids will express the proteins and if they interact A-protein and B-protein will reversibly bind to each other. The cell is then broken up and its contents exposed to a special protein called an antibody, which binds to specific proteins (e.g. A-protein). Therefore, the antibody will grab hold of A while B is attached to A (i.e. Antibody-A-B). The presence of B is seen using an antibody for B that triggers a visible chemical reaction. Therefore, if mutant A fails to interact with B there will be no chemical reaction.

Future treatment

Using the 5 research tools the criminal (i.e. mutation) is identified and a case is slowly built up to understand the extent of his crimes against the cell (i.e. what the mutated protein is doing). Once convicted, the criminal can be rehabilitated using drug treatment to modify his affect and restore the normal function of the cell.

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