Welcome to the Bonham Research Lab at the Metropolitan State College of Denver.
Our work focuses on understanding and investigating Transcription Factors, essential human proteins that regulate the bodies growth and response to disease. These transcription factors are essential components of gene regulation, and there is great interest in probing their presence and activity in both academic analysis and clinical diagnostics. Current methods to address these questions are often time-intensive or require specialized reagents, such as antibodies.
Our work focuses on the development of simple, convenient probes for the quantitative, rapid detection of active transcription factors and other DNA binding proteins. These probes comprise a versatile new class of oligonucleotide-based fluorescent “switches” that recognize transcription factors using native binding interactions. This approach simplifies the rational design of beacons for any target transcription factor of interest and allows the probes to have affinity and specificity on the order of natural binding interactions. This design has been put into practice with beacons directed against diverse human transcription factors, and for all targets we find rapid (minute), specific quantification of nanomolar concentrations, retaining selectivity even in media as complex as crude nuclear extracts. These sensors thus represent a convenient, versatile, and readily generalized approach to detect active transcription factors that provide significant advantages over existing methods for the detection of DNA-binding proteins.