News / 26 April 2017
Kat Gaus headshot

Yuanqing (Alex) Ma, a PhD student in EMBL Australia’s Gaus Group is the lead author on a paper published in Nature Biotechnology last month.

Alex Ma, Katharina Gaus and their colleagues have developed a fluorescence membrane charge sensor (MCS) that reports changes in electrostatic interactions at the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane in live cells.

Ma and colleagues did this by building a Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensor that rapidly and reversible report changes in membrane charges. Membrane charge control electrostatic interactions between proteins  and the lipids in the membrane.

These reversible interactions are critical in protein trafficking and signalling. The research team has applied the sensor to T-cell biology, and use it to identify charged membrane domains in the immunological synapse, allowing us to better understand how T-cell signalling begins and is regulated. Read the full article here.