Braun Group: Single Cell Visual Proteomics

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Much of the research at C-CINA focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Both diseases are associated with the misfolding and aggregation of specific proteins. This affects certain regions of the brain, and only some of the neurons within them. Similarly, in cell models of the diseases, only a fraction of the cultured neurons present are expected to be affected. Thus, single cell experiments are required; average results obtained from the analysis of entire cell populations are difficult to interpret.

Our aim: To quantitatively analyze and visualize specific components in the proteome of single cells at defined time-points after exposure to defined conditions in order to understand the progression of disease, in particular, the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. 

Our Focus: The development and application of a novel analysis method called Single Cell Visual Proteomics, which is based on the visual inspection of the entire cytosol of a single cell by transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

Importance: The ability of TEM to detect very few single molecules of a given component, provides the extreme sensitivity required for single-cell analysis. This sensitivity is not yet achievable by classical biophysical and biochemical methods, including the most frequently used method in proteomic studies, mass spectrometry.