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UT Southwestern named one of 10 NIH centers for 'Human Proteome Project'

DALLAS Oct. 9, 2002 UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is one of 10 U.S. institutions to be awarded a multimillion-dollar National Institutes of Health grant to develop faster methods to study proteins that are critical to drug development.

The grant is part of the NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Proteomics Initiative, a $157 million, seven-year program. The Southwestern Center for Proteomics Research will use the $16 million grant to develop new protein-focused technologies.

The "Human Proteome Project" has been likened to the Human Genome Project, only more difficult. The genome all the DNA of an organism is the formula for making proteins. Proteins are the cellular workhorses that carry out genetic orders for major functions like triggering growth and battling diseases. Scientists around the world are now working to describe all the proteins and how they interact with each other.

Dr. Thomas Kodadek, professor of internal medicine and molecular biology and the grant's principal investigator, said the funds from the NHLBI would be used to create tools to study G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and transcription factors. Studies of these proteins have been limited because GPCRs are difficult to isolate and transcription factors are rare in comparison to other proteins.

"For different reasons, those classes of proteins have been under the radar of traditional proteomics, but they are very important for the regulation of physiological responses," Kodadek said.

These receptors are found in cells' outer membranes. They are known to bind signaling molecules and initiate chain reactions that launch genetic programs in the nucleus. Kodadek said a major goal for the grant is to develop GPCRs arrays flat panels with many different GPCRs arranged in a matrix on the surface. Scientists could introduce a drug or other substance on an array to study multiple GPCRs' responses simultaneously. Because membrane
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Contact: Wayne Carter
Wayne.Carter@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
9-Oct-2002


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