Mentors: Dina Wassaf, Dominick Casalena
A Small Molecule Microarray (SMM) is an array of chemical compounds that is printed onto a glass slide and used in high-throughput experiments to test which of 45,000 different compounds bind to a specific protein. This information can then be used to find potential inhibitors for various proteins. Alana helped to develop two assays using SMMs this summer.
The first assay was a competition assay, to see how pre-bathing proteins in a known small molecule binder affects the number of hits obtained in each experiment. Alana successfully developed a competition assay, using the FKBP-12 protein and a molecule previously known to bind to it, i.e. rapamycin. The second assay Alana performed aimed to identify a small molecule modifier of hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen). To accomplish this, Alana focused on the optimization of primary and secondary antibody concentrations, while minimizing background fluorescence. Alana and her mentors were able to develop a successful protocol for using SMMs to identify potential modifiers of hemoglobin.
Alana, a senior at the Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Somerville, developed the small molecule microarray technology to examine which chemical compounds bind specifically to a protein of interest.