Ph.D. Chemistry, The University of Texas at Austin
B.S. Chemistry, Louisiana Tech University
FRET-based biosensors engineered from naturally occurring fluorescent proteins have been widely used to image the distributions of small molecules and ions in living cells. However, the development of these imaging tools is often based on selections from libraries of random mutants, and little is known about the molecular aspects of the sensors that affect their FRET efficiencies. I am using spectroscopic techniques to characterize the structural changes of a variety of FRET-based Zn2+ sensors upon Zn2+ binding, with the goal of guiding the rational design of mutant libraries. By combining the in vitro characterization of these sensors with rapid, microfluidic selection techniques in cells, I aim to generate new sensors for Zn2+ that have improved cellular performance.