Research led by CMB Trainer Ying Ge: Novel approach promises ready access to hard-to-study proteins

DNA and the genome, we know, provide the blueprint for life. But it is the proteins made according to the genome’s instructions that are the nuts and bolts of living organisms, providing the molecular building blocks for all cells and that are critical targets for therapy.

There are many different kinds of proteins that make up the human body and they are widely studied. But scientists have been hampered by their inability to easily analyze some proteins that are difficult to solubilize in water. This is especially true of proteins that reside in the membranes of cells and which have the most potential as new drug targets.

Illustration: Surfactant being struck by beam of light

A chemical surfactant or detergent used to help prepare protein samples for analysis by mass spectrometry, is cleaved in this illustration by ultraviolet light. Breaking the molecule eliminates it from samples, leaving only the subject proteins for analysis. ARTWORK DESIGNED FOR THIS PAPER BY GRADUATE STUDENT STANFORD MITCHELL

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