U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Office of Science Research Among the United Press International Stories of Modern Science: Eavesdropping on Cell Conversations
Published: December 04, 2002
Posted: December 16, 2002

A team of University of California Los Angeles scientists devised biological cells coupled with luciferase, a protein that makes fireflies glow, and emits light signal which can be captured and displayed with a charged camera device. This allows them to watch multiple cells communicate in the living body. The researchers injected luciferase-bound-cells into the mouse. Each time two specific proteins interacted (communicated) with each other, it activated the luciferase. The luciferase illuminated under the camera, produced brilliant flashes of light in the living mouse, and provided a remarkable sight of cell communication pathways come to life. Before, scientists had to extract an individual cell and use a microscope to study cellular communications. Reported in the November 11 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, their findings may speed development of new drugs for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological diseases.

Contact: Prem Srivastava, SC-73, (301) 903-4071
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Biosystems Design
  • Legacy: Medical Applications

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-73 Medical Sciences Division, OBER)


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