Recombinant Protein Expression Lab established at CU

June 07, 2002

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Molecular biologists at Cornell University have established a Recombinant Protein Expression Laboratory with a five-year, $986,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Located in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, the centralized facility will produce proteins for cancer-related research throughout Cornell's Ithaca campus as well as at the Weill Medical College of Cornell and its Tri-Institutional Collaboration partners (Rockefeller University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) in New York City.

At first the facility will produce milligram quantities of naturally occurring proteins for structural analysis with X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), using bacterial (E. coli ) and insect cell systems. Subsequently, as rational design identifies molecular targets to treat disease, the facility can scale up to produce larger quantities of proteins for clinical trials in the Comparative Cancer Program of the College of Veterinary Medicine and at other cancer centers.

Another goal of the new Cornell facility is to move beyond bacterial and insect cell-based production systems to the much more difficult -- but potentially useful -- process with mammalian cells, according to Danny Manor, assistant professor of nutritional sciences and director of the laboratory.

"Biomedical research benefits tremendously from being able to understand the three-dimensional structures of relevant proteins," Manor explains. "Such molecular-level pictures can open the door for educated design of intervention strategies by modifying the protein's biological activity."

But a bottleneck in structural determination of proteins often is the limited supply of highly purified proteins, Manor notes. "A centralized facility, where the necessary resources (equipment, personnel and know-how) are available, achieves three objectives: access for researchers who are not able to prepare such proteins on their own, reducing the cost associated with large-sale protein production, and expert help and training for interested investigators."

One cancer researcher who understands the difficulty of producing purified proteins and welcomes the new facility is Richard Cerione, a professor in the Departments of Molecular Medicine and Chemistry and Chemical Biology. His studies of molecular "switches" and other signaling components during malignant transformation of cells are aimed at eventually developing intervention strategies. But first he must determine the structure of numerous proteins functioning in complex, and that requires quantities of purified proteins that have been made, with considerable difficulty, in his labs.

"Our ideal goal, if we know the structure of a molecule we think is playing a role in cancer, is to make a small molecule in chemistry that can affect the protein's activity, then test the small molecule in clinical trials," Cerione said. "The first step is to be in a position to obtain molecular information about these important proteins. The advantage of a specialized, centralized facility is to bring together a lot of diverse groups on campus and in New York to expedite getting detailed information about cancer-relevant proteins."

Regarding clinical trials of treatments that are developed from basic-science studies, Rodney L. Page, director of the Comparative Cancer Program and professor of clinical sciences, says, "It could be quite a while before that happens. But the hope is that by identifying a protein and being able to determine the structure, we can modify it to make it work better or inhibit its function. Then we might be able to develop a research program and test in various systems, from in vitro systems up to the animal models."

The new facility has been producing proteins from bacterial systems for several months, and capabilities for insect-cell production are about to be added, Manor reports, "but structural determination of proteins produced in mammalian cells is not something that is done yet, anywhere, so that is a goal to look forward to."
More information on the Recombinant Protein Expression Laboratory is available at or by directly contacting Manor at .

Cornell University

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to