Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 5 – 2010

Or Gozani, Biology
Roger Howe, Electrical Engineering

A novel electronic spectroscopy platform is proposed for characterizing proteinprotein or proteins-small molecule interactions important for cancer research. The chemistrysensitive, electronic detection technology utilizes the basic physical principles underlying an electron transfer reaction in an electrochemical system, between filled states in a metallic electrode and empty electronic states associated with hydrated protons in an aqueous electrolyte. A coherent energy exchange event between a transitioning electron and vibrational and electronic modes associated with biomolecular analytes in the electrolyte is tracked in the measured electrical current flowing across the electrified solid-liquid interface, and the quantummechanical frequency corresponding to the energy exchange, as measured by the electron energy, serves as the set of chemical fingerprints for the specific analyte. The binding of the analyte to another molecule manifests as shifts in the previously identified fingerprint frequencies that can be utilized to identify the moieties participating in the binding process. The platform is proposed to be used for characterizing the binding domains in proteins regulating critical epigenetic events.

The direct identification of a molecule’s vibrational and electronic modes through an electronic signal obviates the need for labels or for combinatorial binding based screening experiments as in the traditional microarray platform. The development of the novel electronic biosensor platform is expected to translate this new advancement in biomolecule sensing and characterization rapidly into the fundamental study of cancer biology as well as into the drug discovery field as a means of identifying promising small molecule targets for cancer therapy.