BME PhD Prospectus Defense - Remy Peace

  • Starts: 1:00 pm on Thursday, December 13, 2018

Title: “Engineering Light-Inducible Molecular Tools from Flourophore-Binding Photoactivatable Domains”

Committee: John T. Ngo, PhD – BU BME (Advisor, Chair) Darren Roblyer, PhD – BU BME Arturo Vegas, PhD – BU Chemistry David Sprinzak, PhD – Tel Aviv University, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Abstract: Throughout development, protein expression profiles are regulated in space and time in order to form organized tissues. Cells use juxtacrine and paracrine signaling pathways to coordinate protein expression patterns with adjacent cells and direct cellular behavior. When signaling proteins are dysregulated, various congenital malformations and genetic disorders may arise. Gene circuits, morphogen gradients, and microenvironments have been used to study these pathways and the mechanisms by which they enable cell-cell interactions and signal propagation. However, these current systems lack spatiotemporal control, limiting their capability to recapitulate the molecular complexity achieved in vivo. As such, there is a need for novel molecular tools that can be precisely actuated in space and time to direct cell-cell interactions and signal propagation. To address this need, we propose to engineer versatile light-inducible molecular tools capable of facilitating cell-cell communication and signal propagation. The ability to manipulate light rapidly and with submicron precision make such optical tools ideal for studying proteins of interest within cells at relevant scales. In addition, we aim to apply our expertise with engineering light-inducible molecular tools to improve the signal resolution and robustness of current optogenetic technologies. The development of these tools will provide enhanced spatiotemporal control over proteins of interest, and their application in various pathways will allow researchers to develop a mechanistic understanding of how isogenic cells interact to propagate signals and direct multicellular phenotype.

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