Visualizing molecules to develop precision medical tools
Molecular imaging is used to understand how proteins interact and relay information within cells. This approach has been most informative and lead to much greater understanding of the mobility and interactions of proteins. For instance, we are using fluorescently tagged subunits of an ion channel to monitor the distribution of the subunits and complete ion channel complex in the cell. Often the proteins are tagged with large fluorescent proteins that by their sheer size may interfere with natural processes and thereby bias our understanding. To counter this potential problem, we also are investigating how we can use smaller fluorescent molecules to monitor protein function. Projects in this area investigate different aspects of protein complex formation and protein function using modern molecular, cellular imaging and analytical techniques.