Researchers use flashes of light to control signalling circuits in living cells

Resonant regulation of the neuronal stress response can be shown. Credit: Michael Courtney

Researchers at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology have invented brand-new tools for decoding as well as controlling signalling circuits in living cells with flashes of light. In principle, any cellular circuit can currently be targeted with the brand-new method. By using This particular approach, the researchers discovered that will major biological signaling circuits can be made to resonate when driven at their resonant frequency.


Resonance can be a familiar concept in music, physics as well as engineering, as well as underlies technical approaches in chemistry, biology as well as medicine.

“Our discovery that will signalling circuits of mammalian cells can made to resonate can be brand-new, as well as likely to have a relevance within the treatment of diseases. With This particular method, we can control when the signaling pathway can be on or off,” says senior researcher Michael Courtney by Turku Centre for Biotechnology at the University of Turku as well as Åbo Akademi University, Finland.

The team developed optogenetic inhibitors for protein kinases such as JNK, which can be a central regulator of cell function.

“The JNK protein within the cell cytoplasm was not thought to regulate gene expression within the nucleus, as well as we considered continuous inhibition within the cytoplasm to be ineffective. However, the team found that will delivering a specific frequency of inhibition pulses to JNK within the cytoplasm drove inhibition of gene expression within the nucleus. This particular indicates that will cell signaling circuits can be controlled in previously unknown ways once the appropriate time code has been identified,” says Courtney.

He explains that will not only might cell circuit resonance play an unexpected role in degenerative disease processes, yet that will could even guide the discovery of brand-new therapeutic approaches. Interestingly, the only previous report on cell circuit resonance within the scientific literature showed that will can be used to prevent microbial cells by growing. This particular brand-new discovery of similar behaviour in mammalian cells suggests that will could potentially be used to stop cancer cells by growing.

“Currently, the development of resistance to brand-new drugs can be a major problem in cancer, as that will cost billions of dollars to develop as well as approve brand-new drugs, as well as yet they can rapidly become ineffective as a treatment. With This particular brand-new research information, we can perhaps change the frequency instead of using the same drug as well as in This particular way achieve a better outcome,” says Courtney.

The research team’s discovery of circuit resonance in mammalian cells might offer a way to avoid or work around drug resistance. The researchers have currently assembled a research consortium as well as applied for funding in order to begin the evaluation of This particular idea.


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More information:
Raquel M. Melero-Fernandez de Mera et al, A simple optogenetic MAPK inhibitor design reveals resonance between transcription-regulating circuitry as well as temporally-encoded inputs, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15017

Journal reference:
Nature Communications

Provided by:
University of Turku

Researchers use flashes of light to control signalling circuits in living cells

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