MIPS Research Summaries: Monash University develops new method to determine where drugs are trafficked in cells

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A team of researchers from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences has developed a new method to qualify where drugs go in cells.

The significant study, entitled A molecular sensor to quantify the localisation of proteins, DNA and nanoparticles, has this month been published in the prestigious Nature Communications.

Determining where material is trafficked following the course in which substances are brought into the cell is essential for understanding many cellular processes.

Lead author, Dr Angus Johnston says: “Typically, to work out where drugs go inside a cell you need to take many high-resolution microscope images, which is time consuming and carries the risk of missing fleeting interactions.”

“With our technique, we can analyse tens of thousands of cells per second and quantify where drugs are trafficked inside the cell. Using this technique, we have tracked how DNA enters the cell, traffics into the cytosol and finally into the nucleus.”

The intracellular transport of inbound biomolecules is an integral process in cell signalling, immune responsesand in the trafficking of infectious agents such as virusesand bacterial toxins. Furthermore, the destination of internalized material is of critical importance for the subcellular delivery of therapeutics.

“To design carriers that can efficiently deliver molecules to these locations, we need to understand the trafficking of these vehicles and their ultimate subcellular fate,” says Dr Johnston.

The results of this work have helped develop a virtual reality (VR) model of a cell that shows how drugs and nanoparticle are trafficked inside the cell. Combining VR with cell biology is part of a larger collaboration that was today nominated for a Eureka Prize for the Innovative use of Technology (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZIpfw8aQAo&feature=youtu.be).

To read the full paper visit: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-18082-8#:~:text=SNAPSwitch%20localization%20sensor%20can,side%20of%20a%20benzylguanine%20group.