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Research Trend   |   Jul 19, 2022

Gold labeled antibody fragments provide insight into the senses

Stereocilia are important structures found in the inner ear that are involved in hearing and balance. Recently, scientists at the Vollum Institute at the Oregon Health and Science University were able to provide insight into the structure and conformations of an important protein involved in these senses using gold immunolabeling and cryo-electron microscopy.

Mechanosensory transduction is the process by which mechanical stimuli are converted into electrical signals. Protocadherin 15 (PCDH15) is an important protein involved in mechanosensory transduction that forms complexes with other proteins on stereocilia to transmit signals about hearing and balance. Until now, the structure and conformations of PCDH15 in its native environment were not known.

Eric Gouaux and his team were able to generate an antigen-binding fragment (Fab) targeting PCDH15 and conjugate it to a gold nanoparticle to facilitate the labeling of PCDH15 in an unfixed and unstained environment. Overall, they were able to determine that PCDH15 exists as a dimer, that there is more than one copy of the PCDH15 complex per stereocilia, and that it tends to exist in clusters. This research provides insight into an important protein involved in hearing and experiencing the world around us.

The Oregon Health and Science University developed the Fab using products and services provided by VectorBuilder’s Vector Design Studio. VectorBuilder offers custom antibody vectors for expressing heavy chain, light chain, and co-expression of both heavy and light chain in mammalian and baculovirus expression systems.  These vectors facilitate the generation of high-quality and customized antibodies for your research needs.


Source: Elferich eLife (

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