Application of Proximity Ligation Assay for Multidirectional Studies on Transforming Growth Factor-β Pathway

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: A comprehensive understanding of how the body and all its components function is essential when this knowledge is exploited for medical purposes. The achievements in biological and medical research during last decades has provided us with the complete human genome and identified signaling pathways that governs the cellular processes that facilitates the development and maintenance of higher order organisms. This has brought about the realization that diseases such as cancer is a consequence of genomic aberrations that effects these signaling pathways, endowing cancer cells with the capacity to circumvent homeostasis by acquiring features like self-sustained proliferation and insensitivity to apoptosis. The increased understanding of biology and medicine has been made possible by the development of advanced methods to carry out biological and clinical analyses. The demands of a method often differ regarding in what context it will be applied. It may be acceptable for method to be laborious and time consuming if it is used in basic research, but for medical purposes molecular methods need to be fast and straightforward to perform. Innovative technologies should preferentially address the demands of both researchers and clinicians and provide data not possible to obtain by other methods. An example of such a method is the in situ proximity ligation assay (in situ PLA). In this thesis I have used this method to determine the activity status, at the single-cell level, of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling pathway and activating protein-1 (AP-1) family of transcription factors.  Both of these pathways are frequently involved in cancer development and progression. In addition to this research I herein also present further modifications of in situ PLA, and analyses thereof, to increase the utility and resolution of this assay.