Proteins are the molecules in cells that carry out the instructions provided by DNA. Proteins are essential for every process inside every living cell, from creating the cellular skeleton to regulating cell division. The ability to accurately identify and quantify specific proteins in the cell is essential for scientists to understand how many different cellular functions are controlled. Detection of specific proteins is possible because of the unique ability of antibodies to tell the difference between the thousands of proteins in the cell. These antibodies can be attached to a light producing molecule. Addition of a specific chemical causes the light signal to be produced, which is proportional to the original amount of protein present. The light signal is then detected by a highly sensitive camera and a digital image is acquired for further analysis. The ability to generate and analyze these images is absolutely essential for understanding the role of specific proteins in cells.
Researchers from the associated labs are investigating a wide range of subjects including cancer cell biology, lipid metabolism, fetal and maternal nutrition, plant energetics, and plant diseases. Determining how specific proteins contribute to these processes will advance our knowledge of how the health, growth and development of model and non-model organisms is regulated.