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Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

 

Research instrumentation core facility

The Research Instrumentation core provides CRUK CI scientists with support and access to a range of state-of-the-art equipment and specialised technologies.

Our lab (formerly called the equipment park) offers technical/scientific advice, troubleshooting support and appropriate training for all the facility’s equipment. We also routinely test the capabilities of our equipment, optimise current or new techniques for our instruments and horizon scan to maximise the quality of data generated and to provide the best possible advice to CRUK CI scientists. 

Protein gel electrophoresis

We provide access to a wide range of gel electrophoresis equipment for analysis of protein samples. We have the capability for both 1- and 2-dimensional separation of proteins including 2D Fluorescence Difference In-Gel Electrophoresis (2D-DiGE). Together with our range of digital camera and scanner imaging systems, we can digitise images which improves accuracy of quantification, saves time and reduces costs. This year we have introduced an iBind instrument for hands-free Western immunodetection.

Biosensor

The Biacore T100 biosensor measures molecular interactions in real-time. This instrument has proved pivotal in a number of research projects this year carried out by the Murphy, Gergely and Brindle laboratories, investigating the kinetics of protein-protein or protein-lipid interactions. This year we have also continued to focus on a new ‘orphan receptor’ technique for the Biacore to capture and identify novel binding partners for molecules using mass spectrometry.

Plate readers and spectrophotometers

The Research Instrumentation core provides access to three high-specification plate readers (a Tecan M200, Biotek Clarity, and a BMG PHERAstar FS with a plate stacker). These are used extensively by most research groups in the Institute for absorbance, fluorescence and/or luminescence assays. Our final two absorbance spectrophotometers consist of a Cecil Super Aquarius 9500 for cuvette measurements, and a newly introduced Direct Detect spectrophotometer for accurate quantification of small volume protein samples.

Imaging systems

Five imaging systems are available that produce digital images from a wide range of different samples. The Typhoon Trio produces images of radioactive, visible fluorescent or chemiluminescent samples while the Odyssey images fluorescence specifically in the infrared region. ImageScanner III is a high-resolution flatbed scanner for imaging non-fluorescent samples. We also have a high resolution camera system, the Syngene Dyversity, capable of capturing both fluorescent and chemiluminescent images and a GelCount colony counter. Dedicated analysis software packages can accurately quantify protein/DNA bands, colonies or spots captured by any of these imaging systems. 

Figure 1. Typical images generated from our imaging systems; (a) IR-800/IR-680 multiplexed Western blot, (b) GFP or (c) tdTomato-stained cells in a dish/multi-well plate, (d) IR800-stained tissue sections, (e) Cy3/Cy5 microarray, (f) 2D-DiGE gel, and (g) AF-488/Cy3-stained primary cells.

Molecular biology applications

Our lab houses an 8-channel NanoDrop as well as a Qubit for quantification of small volume nucleic acid (and protein) samples and has the capability for both standard and real-time PCR. We also have a pulsed-field gel electrophoresis system, CHEF III, for separation of large DNA molecules and a number of E-Gel iBases/MotherBases for fast separation of DNA and RNA.

 

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