Methods and protocols
A range of chemical, biochemical and biophysical methods underlies my research. The principal focus is to investigate physiological processes and mechanisms in real time. I use illustrative examples of the chemistry, biophysics and biochemistry to show the point of these methods. We synthesize through organic chemistry photosensitive but biologically inert compounds that are generically described as ‘caged compounds’.
These are characterized by standard physical chemical methods. This includes measuring their extents and rates of photolysis when irradiated by near-UV light. The biophysics then comes into play as high energy pulsed lasers are used to convert the caged compounds into their biologically active forms on the micro- to millisecond time scale.
Finally physiological processes are investigated generally using biophysical methods such as force and fluorescence polarization measurements in muscle and motion tracking analysis of bacteria. In both cases the processes are initiated by rapid photochemical release of chemicals required for the relevant biological function.