I recently participated in Boston University’s CityLab summer lab program as a scholar recipient from my high school. Started in 1992, the BU School of Medicine pioneered an outreach teaching program that has gone across the country. CityLab’s mission is to provide access to state-of-the-art biotechnology laboratory facilities and curriculum, unavailable to most school systems. The CityLab allows students to solve problems by applying the same techniques and concepts of genetics and molecular biology used in research laboratories today.
My program, “Go for the Glow”, was working with a special protein from jellies that glow under UV light! Our objective was to try to create the most concentrated and purest sample of the protein. After we were split into groups of four, we set off to follow the necessary procedures for different types of purification.
Each member of my group learned a different method of purification in “expert groups”. I learned a process called hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC). This method uses the hydrophobic (fear of water) properties of the glowing protein to separate proteins from each other. We were able to separate out the proteins that weren’t very hydrophobic and that were hydrophilic (like water) to have the purest sample of the glowing protein.
My group investigated different methods, including immobilized metal affinity chromatography (IMAC) which uses the glowing protein’s affinity for nickel to its advantage and size exclusion chromatography (SEC) which uses size to separate and purify the glowing protein. We tried combinations of the different purification methods and compared them to each individual method. In the end we had several samples with a variety of concentrations and purities. We discovered that although many of the glows seemed similar in brightness, not all of them were equally pure or concentrated.
I had a great time participating in this program; it was a unique opportunity to learn how to manipulate lab procedures and think about the results they may cause. To learn more about the program, visit http://www.bumc.bu.edu/citylab/
Dance, move, and empower,