We aim to establish a Visualizing Molecular Interactions Core to facilitate the utilization of key instrumentation vital to the success of the research of the iTarget investigators. One goal of the VMIC is to eliminate barriers to these technologies and provide advice in the optimal collection and analysis of the data. As active participants in the development of the four research projects, the co-directors engaged with the project leaders to comprehensively assess the methods required by each. From this survey we have identified several key gaps in the visualization or measurement of interactions, where technology or expertise was not readily available in house or through collaborative arrangement. We have also identified barriers to entry for essential resources that are available through Dartmouth and regional IDeA cores. To address these unmet needs, the VMIC has three specific aims.
Specific Aim 1 is to fill the gaps in the equipment or features available on existing equipment. This includes a plate reader allowing for fluorescence polarization, FRET and AlphaScreen measurements for in vitro monitoring of biomolecular interactions. It also includes components to upgrade existing microscopes to provide extended live-cell imaging and high-resolution characterization of dynamic protein associations within cells, using fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy.
Specific Aim 2 is to provide faculty liasons to serve as navigators for the optimal utilization of the technologies, to enhance the progress and impact of the iTarget faculty. To eliminate barriers to the use of our collaborating cores and facilities, the VMIC has allocated funds to support reagents or user fees, when necessary.
Specific Aim 3 is to provide data-analysis support for the optimization of experimental design as well as quantitative and statistical support for post-acquisition data processing. The VMIC will work closely with the Molecular Tools Core, which will be housed in the same newly renovated iTarget Core Facilities Suite. The VMIC has also already established working relationships with existing cores at Dartmouth (many of them supported by COBRE awards) as well as in other participating IDeA partners. Within all three aims, the VMIC has been designed to be flexible, in order to be able to adapt to technological needs that emerge as iTarget investigators make scientific progress. The VMIC will also function as a resource and training facility for investigators interested in monitoring, and in most cases quantifying, binding interactions of their biomolecules, whether as purified components or within cells. It will thus directly support all four iTarget Research Projects as well as affiliated iTarget faculty, and will enhance the research infrastructure available at Dartmouth and among our regional IDeA partners.
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