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Title: Molecular rotors as novel probes of protein aggregation
Author: Kubankova, Marketa
ISNI:       0000 0004 8504 5207
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2018
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Molecular rotors are a class of fluorophores that display environmentally-sensitive photophysics. The fluorescence intensities and lifetimes of these molecules strongly depend upon the viscosity of their immediate surroundings, the surrounding "microviscosity". In this work, molecular rotors are employed to investigate protein aggregation, the assembly of proteins into amyloid. Amyloid materials are a hallmark of several serious human diseases, yet they are also known to have important functional roles in organisms. The physicochemical conditions that lead to protein aggregation are still poorly understood and characterisation of the pathways of assembly is an important goal amongst researchers. It is equally important to study the effects of protein aggregation on living cells, both intrinsic and extrinsic, mediated through interactions with the membrane. In this work, the aggregation of various proteins in vitro and in the cellular environment was studied by measuring fluorescence decays of molecular rotors using time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy. The experimental results revealed mechanistic details of aggregation that were not observed previously with alternative techniques. Moreover, the data provided quantitative measurements of the changes of mechanical properties (i.e. microrheology) of living cells as a result of protein aggregation. As such, the results demonstrate that molecular rotors are a powerful tool for investigating protein aggregation and the supramolecular assembly of proteins in general.
Supervisor: Kuimova, Marina Sponsor: Imperial College London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral