Over the past decade, advances in genetic mapping tools have provided great insight into how DNA influences cell behavior. But genetics is only half the equation; much of cells’ behavior is the result of post-transcriptional processes, events that occur after DNA is transcribed, carried out by complex enzyme interactions within the cell. The roles that enzymes play in regulating cell behavior have been incompletely understood, largely because researchers have lacked the proper tools to measure the many simultaneous reactions in a cell.
Northwestern University researchers have recently developed a new technique for profiling enzyme activities in cell lysate, a fluid containing the internal contents of cells. The process uses surfaces that present an array of peptides that each interact with enzymes in a lysate. The changes the enzymes make to the peptides can be directly read using a laser to determine the changes in mass of those peptides.
A paper about the research, “Profiling Deacetylase Activities in Cell Lysates with Peptide Arrays and SAMDI Mass Spectrometry,” was published as an Editors’ Highlight in the November 19 issue of Analytical Chemistry.
William Miller, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, initiated the project to find new methods for growing blood platelets in cultures.