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Beth Kenkel

Beth Kenkel is currently a research scientist in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of Washington. She is particularly interested in science communication and in vitro diagnostics. Follow Beth on twitter @ElizabethKenkel.

Recent Posts

AAVs CREATed for Gene Delivery to the CNS and PNS

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Sep 28, 2017 10:01:35 AM

Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors are the most frequently used gene-transfer tools in the study of the brain and spinal cord, which together are known as the central nervous system (CNS). AAVs are popular tools because: 1) their genomes are easy to manipulate, 2) they have long-term expression; and 3) they have limited toxicity. However, a key challenge of using AAVs for neuroscience research is the lack of a method for genetically manipulating neurons throughout the whole brain. Neurons of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which connect the heart, lung, gut, and other organs to the CNS, are also an important target for gene delivery, especially for the study of pain. While many new capsids (i.e. the part of the virus that determines tropism) have been developed that increase transduction efficiency, none allow for simple and efficient transduction of both the CNS and PNS.That is until the Gradinaru Lab at Caltech stepped up to the challenge.

Find the PHP Plasmids Here!

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Hot Plasmids, Viral Vectors

Photosensitizer Induced Cell Ablation with FAP-TAP MG-2I-dL5**

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Sep 19, 2017 9:20:04 AM

Have you ever wanted to selectively kill a subset of cells in your model system? Turns out that with light-inducible photosensitizers and a quick zap of the proper color light, you can do just that.  Photosensitizing dyes and proteins have been around for awhile (check out this review), but the Bruchez and Tsang labs recently developed a photosensitizer composed of the protein complex complex and the MG-2I-dL5** fluorogen that can be used to ablate cells in culture and in vivo.  Read on to learn more about this killer illumination technique!

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Topics: Plasmid Technology

Some Like it Hot: Thermostable GeoCas9

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Sep 14, 2017 8:40:16 AM

Cas9 is the genome editing tool of choice for a number of model organisms: mammalian cells, yeast, drosophila, plants, worms, zebrafish, frogs, some bacteria; but not thermophilic (high heat loving) bacteria. Until recently the only available Cas9 proteins were isolated from mesophilic (medium heat loving) bacteria, such as Streptococcus pyogene’s SpCas9. These Cas9 proteins don’t work well at high temperatures, so to use them in thermophiles, bacteria must be grown at lower temps. This approach only works for facultative thermophiles (high OR medium heat loving), but not obligate thermophiles. However, the recent discovery of GeoCas9 by the Doudna lab has opened up the field of thermophilic bacteria to CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing.

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Topics: Genome Engineering, CRISPR

Lighting Up Cell Signaling with Photoswitchable Kinases

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Jul 25, 2017 9:20:50 AM

Signal transduction pathways are a lot like cell phone networks. Protein kinases deliver messages to the next members of their pathways, but where the kinases are located, their signal strength, and how long their signals last all impact transduction of the message. To study signaling pathways, scientists frequently use growth factors or serum to stimulate a pathway of interest, but there can be a lot of static since other signaling networks can also be non-specifically activated and, like the game of telephone, often the signal must be transmitted by intermediate messengers. Optical control of kinase activity can provide greater spatiotemporal resolution than pharmacological or genetic approaches, but only a few such methods exist and they only work for a subset of kinases.

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Topics: Fluorescent Proteins

DIY DNA Ladders from Penn State University

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Jul 14, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Two plasmids that can be used to make inexpensive 100 bp or 1 kb DNA molecular weight ladders were recently deposited with Addgene. A team of undergraduate students led by Dr. Song Tan at Penn State developed the plasmids, pPSU1 and pPSU2. When restriction digested with PstI or EcoRV, these plasmids generate 100 bp or 1 kb DNA ladders, respectively. Unlike many commercially available ladders, the 100 bp ladder works well for both agarose and native polyacrylamide gels.

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Topics: Hot Plasmids, Lab Tips

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