Protein Immobilization Research Final Update

As the last week of research approaches, it is rewarding to look back and see all that I have learned. The last two weeks have been extremely productive: I’ve successfully cloned SSO into another plasmid and expressed both the wild type and a mutant version. Furthermore, I’ve been able to run reactions showing the sustained activity of the mutated protein, and thus its potential in biosensors. My aim now is to express at least one more active mutant, and immobilize the mutants in different conditions. If research continues to progress the way it has, we will hopefully have enough for a paper in the fall.

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Protein Immobilization Research Weeks 5-6

Now that I feel comfortable in the lab and with my project, the past few weeks have focused on problem-solving and optimizing reactions. While I was able to express one of the SSO mutants using plasmids created by the lab’s previous graduate student, I was not able to successfully express the other two mutants or the wild type. Thus, I’ve spent the last few weeks cloning the SSO mutants and wild type into a functional plasmid that will hopefully allow us to express. I’m anticipating positive results later this week and into next, which will allow us to take further steps in the immobilization of this protein.

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Protein Immobilization Research Weeks 1-2

Within the first two weeks of working in the research lab, I think I’ve finally begun to understand the meaning of the phrase “learning curve.” Even though I had been coming in a few hours each week the past two semesters, being in the lab from 9-5 working on your own project is a much different experience. It involves more independence, self-reliance, and willingness to troubleshoot. Vastly different from the teaching labs, the experiments I’ve undertaken rely much more on my own competence, adding both pressure and excitement to the research experience. I am incredibly appreciative of both Dr. Young and the senior members in the lab for their patience in answering all my questions. Ironically, the farther along I get in my research, the more I realize there is to discover. Everyday I learn something new, and come home exhausted from throwing my entire mental energy into the day.

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Abstract: Protein Immobilization Through the Use of Unnatural Amino Acids

The focus of my research this summer with Dr. Young’s lab is improving biochip technology though the use of unnatural amino acids. A biochip is a collection of miniaturized test sites attached to a solid substrate. While only about the size of a fingernail, these microscopic laboratories can run thousands of biochemical reactions at the same time. These biochips have the potential to test for an array of different diseases simultaneously, including diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other autoimmune diseases. The potential for this technology is tremendous; these biochips can become a point-of-care diagnostic tool that is fast, effective, economical, and minimally invasive. However, the efficacy of these tests relies on immobilization of proteins, which has not been fully perfected in recent years. My research aims to develop a process for protein immobilization through the use of unnatural amino acids. Solving these issues has the potential to have a significant impact on disease diagnosis and prevention on a global scale.