Princeton researchers develop molecular tools to control cellular activities

September 9, 2020 |

In New Jersey, a Princeton team has developed a class of light-switchable, highly adaptable molecular tools with new capabilities to control cellular activities. The antibody-like proteins, called OptoBinders, allow researchers to rapidly control processes inside and outside of cells by directing their localization, with potential applications including protein purification, the improved production of biofuels, and new types of targeted cancer therapies.

In a pair of papers published Aug. 13 in Nature Communications, the researchers describe the creation of OptoBinders that can specifically latch onto a variety of proteins both inside and outside of cells. OptoBinders can bind or release their targets in response to blue light. The team reported that one type of OptoBinder changed its affinity for its target molecules up to 330-fold when shifted from dark to blue light conditions, while others showed a five-fold difference in binding affinity — all of which could be useful to researchers seeking to understand and engineer the behaviors of cells.

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Category: Research

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