Genetically encoded reporter proteins have been a mainstay of biotechnology research, allowing scientists to track gene expression, understand intracellular processes and debug engineered genetic circuits.
Researchers have developed a new form of protein reporter that can be directly read by a commercially available nanopore sensing device
What may likely be the potential result of the Nanopore technology
The development of Nonopreters by Researchers Would Allow Computers to read cells directly.
A group of researchers has developed a new and more effective genetic reporter protein to help detect particular proteins in cells, a move which is made to ease the study of genetic material and intracellular processes.
As reported by ndtv, genetically encoded reporter proteins are used mostly in the field of biotechnology.
The protein reporter will help to detect specific proteins and decode engineered genetic circuits. However, as report by ndtv, conventional proteins reporter rely on the fluorescence of protein molecules, which makes it difficult to detect some strains therefore, researchers at the University of Washington and Microsoft have developed reporters proteins that can be read by a nanopore sensing device.
Researchers call this new protein reporter ‘nanopore-addressable protein tags engineered as reporters’ (NanoporeTERs, or NTERs). The team of researchers has developed and launch 20 such NTER tags and stored them in a library.
Furthermore, the new synthetic protein are secreted outside of a cell to collect information about the cellular peril. They carry distinct amino acid “barcodes” that react to a nanopore detector.
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On the study, the researchers used the oxford nanopore technologies minion device. With these proteins reporter, it is now possible to simultaneously read more protein strands, which give at least 7 times more multiplexing chances.
All you need to know about NTERS or NANOPORETERS
NTERs OR NanoporeTERs are proteins with charged “tails” that draw them to the sensors of a nanopore through an electric field.
Researchers, then make use of machine learning to decode these electrical signs and place them into NTER barcodes.
“This is fundamentally new interface between cells and computers,” said senior author Jeff Nivala, a UW research assistant professor in the Paul g. Allen school of computer science. “one analogy I like to make is that fluorescent protein reporters are like lighthouses, and nanopores are like messages in a bottle.”
Furthermore, he went on to explain his analogy by saying “lighthouses are really useful for communicating a physical location, as you can literally see where the signal is coming from, but it’s hard to pack more information into that kind of signal.
A message in a bottle, on the other hand, can pack a lot of information into a very small vessel, and you can send many of them off to another location to be read. You might lose sight of the precise physical location where the messages were sent, but for many applications that are not going to be an issue”
Karen Zhang, a lead co-author who graduated this year from the UW with a bachelor’s degree in both biochemistry and microbiology saw a potential to expand these NTERs beyond 20 tags. He says “we are currently working to scale up the numbers of nanporeTERs to hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions more. The more we have, the things we can track he concluded
NTERs has the capacity to change the way diseases are been detected, traced, or target therapeutics to specific areas in the body. And “debugging complicated genetic circuit designs” is another field that will benefit from this research.