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Dr. Alexander Deiters

Dr. Alexander Deiters

University of Pittsburgh

February 14, 2020

12 Noon in Meyerhoff Chemistry Building, Room 120

Host: Dr. Kathie Seley-Radtke

“Peeking and Poking at Cells: Optical Control of Biological Processes”


Biological processes, such as signal transduction, gene expression, and cell proliferation, are regulated with high spatial and temporal precision. In order to study and understand these processes, equally precise external control is required. Light is an excellent tool for this purpose, as it can be easily regulated in timing, location, wavelength, and amplitude, thereby enabling control of biological processes with unmatched precision. We are developing optical switches to A) control protein function through genetic code expansion with unnatural amino acids that can be activated with light, and to B) control nucleic acid function through synthetic installation of light-cleavable chromophores onto nucleobases and into phosphodiester backbones. We have applied these approaches to the conditional control of DNA recombination, gene editing, RNA polymerization, RNA translation, microRNA function, cell signaling, and other essential biological processes in mammalian cells and zebrafish embryos.