July 28, 2014

Biocurrents Shared Resource

The BioCurrents Shared Resource

Manager: Mark Messerli

Website: http://www.biocurrents.org/

The activities of the BioCurrents Shared Resource (BSR) are focused on the study of transport mechanisms across the plasma membrane at the molecular, cellular, and systemic level. An important component of these studies is the development and biomedical application of techniques for the detection of specific molecules. To meet these objectives the BSR is funded as a resource center through the NIH National Center for Research Resources. The BSR is an active component of the resident cell biology program.

Core Research:
Instrument Development
Further development of the self-referencing, ion selective (Seris) probes with a particular emphasis on:

  • enhanced temporal resolution for the current Ca2+, H+ and K+ probes,
  • a clearer understanding of complications through interferents,
  • fusion with fluorescence to produce a hybrid sensor,
  • optical fiber and electrochemical sensors development to offer new probes in conjunction with NSOM techniques,
  • development and incorporation of new electrochemical or polarographic (Serp) sensors, adding to the current availability of oxygen, nitric oxide and ascorbate probes for single cell study,
  • development and incorporation of enzyme based biosensors into a self-referencing configuration (Sere). An ultramicro glucose sensor, based on glucose oxidase through immobilization is complete. We will also target lactate and glutamate detection at the single cell level,
  • design and construction of a web database on the handling and specificity of pharmacological compounds targeting transport mechanisms (see www.biocurrents.org)

The biological themes studied at the BioCurrents Shared Resource are broad but all focus on mechanisms underlying trans-membrane transport. Our interests lie in secretory events along with vesicle transport and docking, channel biophysics, the characterization, molecular biology and pharmacology of pumps and porters, cellular metabolism and messenger molecules. Projects take advantage of the non-invasive nature of the probes, their selectivity and their ability to measure non-electrogenic transport.

We have recently developed a particular focus on Type II diabetes. These themes are studied both as part of our in-house research program but also in collaboration with numerous visiting investigators. The collaborations operate on a year-round basis and although focusing on local medical schools and hospitals, include an increasing outreach to labs throughout North America and Europe.

Projects on the physiology of extremophiles, dynamics of the cytoskeleton, and the physiology of the pre-implantation embryo are run in conjunction with other year-round laboratories—the Bay Paul Center, Architectural Dynamics of Living Cells, and the Laboratory for Reproductive Medicine, respectively.

In addition to the instrumentation mentioned above, the BioCurrents Shared Resource also makes available several facilities to visiting investigators. These include conventional electrophysiological approaches, ratio imaging, as well as tissue and cell culture.

The BSR is an active participant in many of the MBL teaching and fellowship programs, hosting both undergraduate and graduate students on a regular basis. In the summer of 2002, the BSR hosted five MBL Fellows to work in collaboration with BioCurrents. In addition to its summer collaborative activities, the group maintains an active year-round program when visiting investigators are also welcome. Contact the BioCurrents Manager, Mark Messerli. Projects must book lab space well in advance.