Optimization of Protein Immobilization Towards a Diagnostic Lab-on-a-chip

Hey fellow researchers! I’m Christina and I’m excited to start summer research for the second time in the Young Lab. We have a great group staying this summer so it will be fun and productive! I’m working on several proteins, so hopefully on of them will start expressing in appreciable quantities.

We are working towards lab on a chip (LOC) technology because it has many healthcare applications. A LOC diagnostic test is similar to the glucometer used by diabetics. Anyone with minimal training can input a small sample volume, then get immediate results. This would be very useful in healthcare, especially in developing countries where medical resources are hard to come by. Additionally, we will be developing a method using unnatural amino acids, which could allow for the immobilization of multiple proteins to the same surface, allowing for the testing of multiple diseases at once and further streamlining the diagnostic procedure. We have chosen to use proteins as they are highly selective and will only interact with a one disease biomarker, making them perfect for the diagnosis of disease.

The main technical focus of my research this summer will be to express multiple proteins containing a few unnatural amino acids (UAAs) and then immobilize these proteins onto resin beads. UAAs are chemical variations of the natural 20 amino acids. We chose to use unnatural amino acids because the can be incorporated site specifically into the proteins, giving us complete control over the orientation of the protein as we immobilize it. By optimizing this immobilization process, I will lay the groundwork for the development for a diagnostic LOC.

To prepare for the summer, I’ll be making a TON of competent cells as well as trying one more time to express my ULP-1 protein in these last few weeks. Best of luck to you all!

-Christina Howard