The cells building up the human body is in constant communication with each other. This communication is done through large complex networks of signaling pathways for inter- and intracellular signal transduction. The signaling activity regulates many important processes, for example cell death, proliferation and differentiation. Information within the signaling networks is communicated over the cell membrane, through the cytoplasm and entering the nucleus by protein activities such as protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and post translation modifications (PTMs). The cells adapts to their own environment, responding to multiple stimuli from their surroundings. This in combination with memory of previous responses, difference in cell cycles stages and sometimes altered genetic background generates heterogeneous cell populations in which every cell is slightly different from its neighbor. This calls for methods to study the activity of endogenous proteins in individual cells within a population.
In situ proximity ligation assay (in situ PLA) was originally developed to visualize interaction between endogenous proteins in fixed cells and tissue and can also be applied to detect PTMs. This thesis describe the application of in situ PLA to study PPIs in signaling pathways and the work to further develop and improve techniques for proximity dependent detection.
In paper I in situ PLA is used to study cross talk between the Hippo and the TGFβ signaling pathways. The study shows the complex formation by the transcription co-factors of the Hippo pathway, Yap and Taz, and the main effectors of the TGFβ pathway Smad2/3. Furthermore the density dependent localization of the interaction is described.
Paper II presents a new version of the in situ PLA probes for simultaneous detection of multiple complexes. Visualization of various complexes involving EGFR, Her2 and Her3 is presented as a proof of concept.
The efficiency of in situ PLA is limited by several factors, one being the design of PLA probes and oligonucleotide systems. Even upon proximal binding of the probes there is a risk of formation of non-circular ligation products, which cannot be amplified and detected. In Paper III two new PLA probes are presented aiming to reduce the formation of non-circular ligation product and hence increase the detection efficiency of in situ PLA.
Paper IV presents a new method for detection of protein complexes and phosphorylation; proxHCR. ProxHCR combines signal amplification by enzyme free hybridization chain reaction (HCR) with the requirement of proximal binding of two affinity probes. As a proof of principle the method is used to detect multiple complexes and protein phosphorylation in fixed cells and tissue.
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. , 48 p.
2015-05-29, Biomedicinskt centrum (BMC), B/B42, Husargatan 3, Uppsala, 13:00 (English)