HomeEducationGraduate and Undergraduate ProgramsResearch Experience for Undergraduates (REU)REU 2022 ProjectsReal-Time Measurement of Zinc Concentration in the Periplasmic Space of E.Coli Cells Using FRET Sensors

Real-Time Measurement of Zinc Concentration in the Periplasmic Space of E.Coli Cells Using FRET Sensors

Professor:Peng Chen

Project Description: Transition metals play vital roles as essential micronutrients required to sustain life. Consequently, their concentrations inside the cells are tightly regulated. Although past researchers have identified and characterized the regulators responsible for metal homeostasis of various essential transition metals, the exact mechanistic pathways are still elusive and riddled with knowledge gaps. The project focuses on studying zinc metal homeostasis in Escherichia coli (E. coli), a common bacterium in the environment, foods, and intestines of various species. From previous works, it is known that E. Coli has adapted to survive in environments with depleted and excess Zn2+ through the specialized importer ZnuABC cassette and exporter ZntA, respectively. Research in zinc metal homeostasis has focused on the mechanism in which metalloregulators Zur and ZntR interact with DNA thus regulating the expression of ZnuABC and ZntA. Due to the high affinity of the metalloregulators for zinc (~femtomolar) and their importance in modulating the cell response, measuring intracellular zinc dynamics can be a challenge. However, the periplasm zinc concentration is more loosely regulated and can be used as a proxy for the local Zn2+ microenvironment and to measure the relative amount of zinc uptake or efflux during metal homeostasis. E.coli cells

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