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New Sensors Streamline Detection of Estrogenic Compounds

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Huimin Zhao

University of Illinois chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Huimin Zhao and his colleagues engineered a new detector of compounds that bind to estrogen receptors in human cells.

Credit: Courtesy of L. Brian Stauffer

University of Illinois researchers have developed sensors that fluoresce in the presence of compounds that interact with estrogen receptors in human cells. The researchers used part of the estrogen receptor itself to design the new sensors, taking the region of the receptor that binds to estrogenic compounds and adding two halves of a fluorescent protein that glows only when the halves are put back together.

During testing, the researchers found that two of the sensors reliably signaled the presence of estrogenic compounds. The first differentiated between compounds that activate and those that block estrogen receptors, glowing more brightly in the presence of one and dimming when tied to the other. The second sensor glowed in the presence of both types of compounds, making it a reliable indicator of chemicals that bind to the receptor.

The sensors will help researchers and clinicians quickly and efficiently determine whether a food, drug, or chemical substance interacts with estrogen receptors in human cells, according to Illinois professor Huimin Zhao.

From University of Illinois News Bureau
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc. External Link, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 



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