Bernice Akpinar has been working at Yale University in the laboratory of Professor Patrick Lusk and Dr. Chenxiang Lin in the school of Cell Biology as a visiting research scholar. Bernice’s research at the London Centre for Nanotechnology aims to understand the mechanism by which molecules enter the nucleus of our cells through the protein assembly known as the nuclear pore complex (NPC). In order to investigate this Bernice has been using atomic force microscopy (AFM) to probe interactions between nucleoporin proteins assembled on an NPC mimic as designed by Lin’s lab.
During her time at Yale she spent time developing skills in the design, fabrication and analysis of disordered proteins arranged on a DNA origami support, mimicking the NPC. She subsequently used high speed AFM to resolve the intramolecular between the assembled proteins in solution. Whilst there Bernice trained members in Lin’s group on the use of AFM to characterise DNA origami constructs in liquid.
The collaboration has allowed Bernice to build mimics of the NPC and analyse them with high spatial and temporal resolution via AFM. Her future work will focus on characterising the selective barrier in these NPC mimics using fluorescence microscopy techniques.