Dr. Cem Albayrak, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Koç University, and his postdoctoral research were recently featured on two online science outlets. He conducted his postdoctoral research on single-cell analysis at ETH Zürich in the laboratory of Prof. Savaş Tay (now at University of Chicago). The research project was published earlier this year in Molecular Cell1,2. He presented the project at the Festival of Genomics Conference in Boston, and recently in a webinar on The Scientist web science portal3. Finally, Select Science published a short piece about the research project4.
Dr. Albayrak and his colleagues at ETH Zürich developed a very sensitive method called “digital proximity ligation assay” (dPLA) for quantifying an mRNA and the protein it encodes from single mammalian cells. Digital PLA enables absolute quantification of these macromolecules from single cells. It is possible with this method to quantify as few as 20,000 proteins and 50 mRNA molecules from the same single cell. Genetically identical (i.e. isogenic) cells may have different amounts of RNA and protein due to biological noise; dPLA therefore enables the quantification of small differences in the RNA and protein content of individual isogenic cells. In fact, their results demonstrated substantial differences between the single-cell CD147 protein and mRNA content of isogenic mammalian cells, and a poor correlation between the abundances of two macromolecules. These results were also used to construct and verify a mathematical model of the central dogma (transcription and translation) for CD147.
(You can access the webinar after registering free of charge on the website.)
Digital PLA schematic. Used with permission from Albayrak et al., 2016. Digital quantification of proteins and mRNA in single mammalian cells. Molecular Cell, 61, 914-924. © 2016 Elsevier.