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Nitric oxide (NO) is an important molecule in living cells for signaling, thus a specific sensor to detect its level in live cells is needed. Currently there are a few small molecule probes for the detection of NO. A common shortcoming of these probes is their unavoidable leakage from the target cells. In this project, I seek to develop a novel green fluorescent protein (GFP)-based biosensor to detect cellular NO. This GFP-based sensor is genetically encodable and can potentially avoid the possible false positive result due to the leakage. I synthesized an unnatural amino acid (unAA) and examined its incorporation into GFP to replace the chromophore-forming tyrosine 66. I also investigated the ability of this unAA to detect NO.
Advisor: Jiantao Guo