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"Live cell biochemistry by light"

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Many forms of cancer begin with oncogenic events, which, in normal cells, elicit growth cessation or cell death rather than transformation, due to the activation of tumour suppressive networks. We are interested in dissecting the signaling pathways that lead from oncogenic events to tumour suppressive mechanisms, and in particular, how cells integrate extracellular and intracellular signals to preserve tissue-, cell- and genome homeostasis in the face of oncogenic challenge. However, we recognize that state of the art technologies do not permit to characterize a number of biochemical reactions in the living cells thereby limiting our capabilities to establish causal dependencies between the spatiotemporal dynamics of biochemical networks and cellular decisions. Therefore, we devoted significant efforts to develop novel fluorescence-based assays with the aim to enable complex biochemical measurements in single living cells. In this talk, I will review state-of-the-art biochemical imaging techniques (e.g., translocation sensors for phosphorylation, FRET -based sensors and FLIM ) and techniques for the light-dependent induction of biochemical events. Furthermore, I will demonstrate our latest developments of fast non-invasive techniques to simultaneously measure several biochemical reactions within the living cells with high spatio-temporal resolution and the use of optogenetics in cell biology and cancer biology (e.g., fast activation of oncogenic signalling) in particular. The possibility to interrogate signal transduction pathways non-invasively with the highest spatiotemporal and biochemical resolutions will enable us to elucidate mechanisms underlying oncogenesis and their cellular heterogeneity.

This talk is part of the Babraham Seminar series.

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