April 26, 2021
Staff Accomplishment

Bringing Chemical Probes to the Toxicology Community

PNNL scientists presented at the 2021 Society of Toxicology meeting

illustration of chemical probes

Illustration by Stephanie King | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Scientists with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory chaired a continuing education course, presented talks in this course, and presented a poster at the virtual Society of Toxicology meeting in March.

Jordan Smith and Aaron Wright chaired a continuing education course titled “Chemical Probes: New Tools to Identify Molecular Targets.”

Scientists design and synthesize chemical probes to interact with specific classes of proteins, receptors, and nucleic acids based on catalytic activities or selective affinities. These probes then form irreversible bonds with their biomolecule targets. Finally, fluorescent labels or proteomics after target enrichment facilitate detection of probe binding.

Probes can be used for rapid, quantitative screening of cells, tissues, and biological fluids from microbes, animal models, and humans. They provide measurements of functional activity rather instead of total abundance of transcripts, proteins, or nucleic acids. As such, chemical probes have recently gained popularity among research toxicologists and drug developers as tools to measure enzymatic activity important in metabolism and identify novel molecular binding targets of toxicants and drugs. 

During the continuing education course, Smith and Vivian Lin presented talks titled “Activity-Based Protein Profiling to Better Understand, Measure, and Translate Metabolism,” and “Activity-Based Protein Profiling for Identifying and Translating Organophosphate Targets across Animal Models.”

Kari Gaither, Whitney Garcia, Kimberly Tyrrell, Wright, Justin Teeguarden, and Smith were authors on a poster titled, “Identifying Key Active P450 Enzymes in Human PAH Metabolism.”

Wright holds a joint appointment in the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at Washington State University. Teeguarden and Smith hold joint appointments in the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at Oregon State University.

Published: April 26, 2021

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