psgurel: Today I am looking at actin filaments using Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy. You may have heard about total internal reflection when learning about optic fibers… basically, if you shine light at a particular angle, instead of going through a sample, it’ll bend back, or get “internally reflected.” The TIRF microscope relies on this principle and as a result, images acquired with TIRF have really good signal to noise ratio, meaning there is good contrast and low background. Our department recently got a grant accepted to buy this scope, and so today is my first day using this system. Before then, I had to travel to places like Chicago, Montreal, and Woods Hole to use a proper ‘scope. Anyway, check out our new rig, and check out what actin looks like after it’s been polymerized for an hour (looks like hair!).
crestwind24: Today I am doing some computer work, specifically I am looking through data from the modENCODE project! The modENCODE project, which stands for Model Organism ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements, is designed ‘to identify all of the sequence-based functional elements in the Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster genomes.’ The project is working to identify all of the DNA locations where regulatory proteins or transcription factors bind DNA. Using the data from the project, I can analyze where in the C. elegans genome the protein I study is working. It is an awesome tool to complement the work I do in lab! For more info, check out the wikipedia page on the related ENCODE project, which is mapping the functional DNA elements in the human genome!
crestwind24 – This morning I am screening through many, many plates of worms. Usually this is very tedious, but today it is very exciting because I am looking for worms that have had their genomes edited using the CRISPR/Cas9 system!!! The CRISPR system allows scientists to make specific genetic changes in the actual genes of bacteria, cells, and animals. In the case of C. elegans, the CRISPR system allows scientists to target genes within the genome to mutate them, change them, delete them, or add things to them. It is extremely powerful, and hopefully I will find some worms that have the genetic edit that I designed!! Cross your fingers for me!
psgurel– Speaking of tedious, I am in the final steps of expressing and purifying protein. Purified protein is a requirement for a variety of biochemical experiments (like the kinetic assay or analytical ultracentrifugation I mentioned earlier). This whole process takes 5 days for the protein I’m expressing, where I’ve had to: grow and express my protein in E. Coli (E. Coli is typically used for protein expression because they grow very fast and yield a lot of protein), lyse the bacterial cells, harvest the protein through various methods of chromatography, concentrate my protein, then store it appropriately. Here I am posing with the FPLC, in the final step of purifying my protein. Looks like I got a good yield, yippee!
psgurel: I always save my favorite experiments for Fridays! Today, I’m doing an assay to look at kinetics. ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is typically known as the main “energy” source in cells and is required for several reactions to take place. On a chemical level in these reactions, ATP gets hydrolyzed and you are left with ADP (Adenosine diphosphate) and phosphate as a product. Today, I’m looking at how fast different proteins hydrolyze ATP. To do this, I stop reactions at various time points, and then I add a green dye that labels free phosphate. The dye turns darker shades of green as the amount of phosphate in solution increases. Check out my samples! The darker the green, the more phosphate is present, which means more ATP has been hydrolyzed!
crestwind24: Today I am scoring and imaging the neurons of old worms. This means sitting for a few hours in a dark room at a big microscope and computer. Specifically, I am trying to see what is happening with certain neurons in the worm as they grow old. We know very little about how neurons change in old age, and why some die in normal aging, as well as in many diseases. In the first picture you can see the green light under the microscope, which is activating my fluorescent proteins. On the computer screen you can see the image the microscope is taking. The arrows point to the 2 worms I was taking picture of, old worm selfie!! The selfies are a bit grainy since the room is dark… sorry … and its time to upgrade my phone.
Personalize an AYC sign about why you support medical progress or create your own sign using a blank piece of paper, so that you can talk about medical progress in your own way. For example, “I support medical progress in honor of…” or “Medical progress is important because…”
Have someone photograph you with your sign, or take a “selfie.”
Promote your photo on social media, using the hashtag #AYCresearch.