Genetically Encoded Control of Protein Function with Light

Type of Award: Catalyst
Date Awarded: September 2009
Award End Date: August 2011
Amount Awarded: $ 200,000.00
PI(s): Michael Glotzer, PhD, UChicago; Tobin Sosnick, PhD, UChicago; Eric Weiss, PhD, NU;

Abstract: Biologists aim to understand in a detailed way how cells change shape, move, and divide. These behaviors are tightly regulated within the cell, and failures of the control systems lead to disease. Perturbation experiments, in which the experimenter makes controlled changes to a system and observes the results, are an important way of learning how biological systems function. However, no convenient method is available to perturb cellular control systems at specific sub-cellular locations and in real time. Because illumination through the microscope is one of the most precise perturbations one can make to a living cell, we propose to fill this technological gap by creating a convenient tool for activating or deactivating these systems using light.