Phase 2 (Round 1)
Proteins are molecules essential to life, and serve to keep cells operating normally. In order to carry out their functions, proteins must associate with each other via “protein-protein interactions” or PPIs. Integral membrane proteins are an important type of protein that have roles in many human diseases, but are notoriously difficult to study due to their unique biochemical features. This makes learning about how they functionally interact with other proteins, and how disruption of these functions leads to disease, extremely challenging, and represents a significant barrier to researchers attempting to create new therapeutic drugs to treat disease.
Dr. Igor Stagljar and his team at the University of Toronto recently developed a powerful new technology called the Mammalian Membrane Two-Hybrid (MaMTH) assay, which can map PPIs of integral membrane proteins directly in the natural context of the cell, providing a significant leap forward in how membrane proteins are studied in humans. They now propose to further develop MaMTH technology by converting it into a platform that can map the interactions of integral membrane proteins on an extremely large scale, allowing for the identification and study of integral membrane PPIs at an unprecedented rate. This work will provide a transformative new genomics technology, as well as a wealth of information on integral membrane protein interactions that will allow researchers to understand membrane protein function and develop better-targeted therapies for human disease more rapidly.
Additionally, the technology will be the foundation for an Ontario-based company called Protein Network Sciences that will assist researchers further by offering easy access to this novel disruptive MaMTH technology. The further development of MaMTH technology will provide a powerful research tool to advance biomedical research and therapeutic discovery, while simultaneously benefiting Canadian social and economic infrastructure.