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Semisynthesis of unnatural amino acid mutants of paxillin

B Imperiali
E M Vogel

Research question: Can we synthesize a photolabile precursor to the cellular migration protein paxillin and characterize it in vivo?

Paxillin is a complex, multi-domain phosphoprotein that coordinates the cell's ability to move and communicate. MIT Professor of Chemistry and Biology Barbara Imperiali and her graduate student, Elizabeth Vogel, developed a method to semisynthesize a precursor of paxillin that can be activated using a pulse of light (as shown in the image above). This tool enables biologists to understand the role of a single phosphorylation event in the big picture of cell migration, which will provide insight into the mechanisms of cancer proliferation and wound repair. They reported their results in the March 2007 issue of Protein Science.

This module contains:
  • An overview that contextualizes the research while providing some chemical and biological background.
  • A detailed experiment timeline. Selected experiments from Elizabeth Vogel's six lab notebooks are annotated and presented in a timeline. Every experiment is linked to scans of the corresponding pages in Elizabeth Vogel's lab notebook (PDF). Some experiments are linked to audiovisual supplementary information.
  • Video interviews with Barbara Imperiali and Elizabeth Vogel. The authors describe their career path, explain their research philosophies, and provide advice to aspiring scientists. Barbara Imperiali also shares some of her travel pictures.
  • Author profiles for Barbara Imperiali and Elizabeth Vogel (click on the links at the top of this page).
  • The full manuscript (HTML and PDF).
  • A glossary of some obscure terms. The glossary is also accessible from the Read the Paper page. Move the mouse over any hyperlinked word and its definition will appear in a tooltip.
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