One-touch make-up -- for our cells (w/ Video)

November 23, 2010

The cells in the different parts of this video are always the same (grey), but, like actors using make-up to highlight different facial features, they have fluorescent labels that mark different cellular components in different colours: blue shows the nucleus, yellow shows tubulin (a component of the cell’s scaffolding), red shows mitochondria, cyan shows the membranes of vesicles called endosomes, and purple shows other membrane structures.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Instead of spending hours applying first one colour of make-up – or fluorescent label – and then another, scientists were able to create the equivalent of a make-up brush that is applied only once and highlights different features simultaneously.

The underlying technique was first developed by Imre Berger from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble, France, as part of a method called MultiBac, for expressing protein complexes in insect cells.

In work published today in Nature Communications, Imre Berger and Philipp Berger from the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland, joined forces to adapt this technology concept to mammalian cells like our own for the first time. It essentially involves rapidly engineering a single vector to deliver a theoretically unlimited number of foreign genes to a cell. To date, the scientists have successfully delivered up to 15 genes in this way.

The protein encoded by each of those genes can carry a fluorescent label, so this makes multiple labelling much more efficient than previous methods. The new labelling technique for mammalian , called MultiLabel, could help make drug development and screening considerably faster, since it allows scientists to precisely label many involved in a given disease process and follow them all at the same time.

Explore further: Fluorescent protein basis for bluish coral

More information: Kriz, A., Schmid, K., Baumgartner, N., Ziegler, U., Berger, I., Ballmer-Hofer, K. & Berger, P. A plasmid-based multigene expression system for mammalian cells. Nature Communications, Advanced Online Publication 16 November 2010. DOI:10.1038/ncomms1120

Related Stories

Researchers make cell biology quantitative

October 20, 2005

Yale researchers have reported a method to count the absolute number of individual protein molecules inside a living cell, and to measure accurately where they are located, two basic hurdles for studying biology quantitatively.

One-touch make-up -- for our cells

November 17, 2010

A new technique developed by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Grenoble, France and collaborators enables them to introduce up to 15 fluorescent markers to a mammalian cell in one go, and could help ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.