Fluorescent Sensor for Inflammation Marker PGE2
University of Idaho Seed Grant
Cells communicate in a molecular language. During inflammation, cells use this language to call for help. This process is critical to fighting infection, but when it is dysregulated, it can contribute to arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Biologists and biochemists have made progress in reading these communications. The molecules involved are known (such as interleukins and prostaglandins). However, there is no way to visualize these chemicals with modern imaging techniques (like an MRI) because they are too small and mobile. Observing how these signals are exchanged would help biologists understand how these chemicals mediate healthy behavior (e.g., fighting infection) and unhealthy behavior (e.g., failure to of the immune system to detect cancer). The ability to visualize inflammatory signals in real time would allow for better understanding of a new class of immune modulating cancer therapies and anti-aging drugs. We propose to build microscopic sensors that respond to an important chemical messenger, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), by emitting light we can observe with a fluorescence microscope or in vivo imager. This PGE2 sensor will be a proof of concept for a new class of light-up biosensors. This early proof of concept work will set the stage for the Allen lab to pursue additional projects and funding in collaboration with biomedical scientists investigating these important processes.