A method to control phosphoinositides and to analyze PTEN function in living cells using voltage sensitive phosphatases
SUMMARY: This study talks about a new method to measure phosphoinositide levels in cells as well as levels of PTEN enzymes. Phosphoinositides are a type of phospholipids on the cell membrane; their job is to interact with membrane proteins. PTEN is a tumor suppressing enzyme that is absent or mutated in cancer cells. The method proposed by researchers in this group is cheaper and easier than conventional methods involving microscopy and patch clamping. Here, they activate positive ion channels (cation channels) to depolarize the cell and this activates voltage sensitive phosphatases, which in turn allows scientists to change and control phosphoinositide levels in the cell and monitor mutations in PTEN.
LESSON COMMENTS: This is very biochemistry and biophysics heavy, but would be great for an advanced physics and advanced biology class to collaborate on both the techniques used and the biology concepts necessary to understand these methods.
I would suggest reading the introduction and skipping to the discussion section for teachers. A summary or excerpt from this article could be used for students studying action potential in biology class. The methodology section is broken down into 5 sections and cover the following topics respectively: plasmids/restriction sites, more plasmids and how to transfer them, application of light/waves/wavelength as a tool in biophysics, resistance/voltage in patch-clamping, ions/ionic compounds and solutions, statistical analysis of the results from all the above techniques.
The methodology section alone should be able to show students that all fields of science and mathematics/statistics play a role in experiments and data collection.
Mavrantoni, A., Thallmair, V., Leitner, M. G., Schreiber, D. N., Oliver, D., & Halaszovich, C. R. (2015). A method to control phosphoinositides and to analyze PTEN function in living cells using voltage sensitive phosphatases. Frontiers in pharmacology, 6, 68. doi:10.3389/fphar.2015.00068