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3 Publications

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    07/08/22 | Melding Synthetic Molecules and Genetically Encoded Proteins to Forge New Tools for Neuroscience.
    Kumar P, Lavis LD
    Annual Review Neuroscience. 2022 Jul 08;45:131-150. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-110520-030031

    Unraveling the complexity of the brain requires sophisticated methods to probe and perturb neurobiological processes with high spatiotemporal control. The field of chemical biology has produced general strategies to combine the molecular specificity of small-molecule tools with the cellular specificity of genetically encoded reagents. Here, we survey the application, refinement, and extension of these hybrid small-molecule:protein methods to problems in neuroscience, which yields powerful reagents to precisely measure and manipulate neural systems.

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    07/03/22 | Multifunctional fluorophores for live-cell imaging and affinity capture of proteins
    Kumar P, Jason D. Vevea , Edwin R. Chapman , Luke D. Lavis
    bioRxiv. 2022 Jul 03:. doi: 10.1101/2022.07.02.498544

    The development of enzyme-based self-labeling tags allow the labeling of proteins in living cells with synthetic small-molecules. Use of a fluorophore-containing ligand enables the visualization of protein location inside cells using fluorescence microscopy. Alternatively, deployment of a biotin-containing ligand allows purification of tagged protein using affinity resins. Despite these various applications of self-labeling tags, most ligands serve a single purpose. Here, we describe self-labeling tag ligands that allow both visualization and subsequent capture of a protein. A key design principle is exploiting the chemical properties and size of a rhodamine fluorophore to optimize cell-permeability of the ligand and the capture efficiency of the biotin conjugate. This work generates useful “multifunctional” fluorophores with generalizable design principles that will allow the construction of new tools for biology.

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    07/01/22 | Kinetic principles underlying pioneer function of GAGA transcription factor in live cells.
    Tang X, Li T, Liu S, Wisniewski J, Zheng Q, Rong Y, Lavis LD, Wu C
    Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. 2022 Jul 01;29(7):665-676. doi: 10.1038/s41594-022-00800-z

    How pioneer factors interface with chromatin to promote accessibility for transcription control is poorly understood in vivo. Here, we directly visualize chromatin association by the prototypical GAGA pioneer factor (GAF) in live Drosophila hemocytes. Single-particle tracking reveals that most GAF is chromatin bound, with a stable-binding fraction showing nucleosome-like confinement residing on chromatin for more than 2 min, far longer than the dynamic range of most transcription factors. These kinetic properties require the full complement of GAF's DNA-binding, multimerization and intrinsically disordered domains, and are autonomous from recruited chromatin remodelers NURF and PBAP, whose activities primarily benefit GAF's neighbors such as Heat Shock Factor. Evaluation of GAF kinetics together with its endogenous abundance indicates that, despite on-off dynamics, GAF constitutively and fully occupies major chromatin targets, thereby providing a temporal mechanism that sustains open chromatin for transcriptional responses to homeostatic, environmental and developmental signals.

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