By Isela Rodriguez, Goizueta Scholar and Honors College student
The Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy provides research opportunities for undergraduate students, from all over the United States, interested in continuing their education to pursue a degree in the biomedical sciences. The program provides students with independent research projects in the students’ area of interest, GRE preparation, research seminars, enrichment sessions, and social activities. Students work in the laboratory through out the summer running experiments and increasing their laboratory skills under the supervision of great scientist. At the end of the program, students present the their collected experimental data at the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy Symposium.
Throughout the summer, while at Vanderbilt University, I worked on improving my skills in the laboratory when it came to the use of instruments and experimentation. In Dr. Sanders’ laboratory, I was assigned to work with the human integrin α6 transmembrane-cytoplasmic (TM-CT) domains and its expression levels in minimal medium, a liquid solution that contains the minimum amount of nutrients for the support of E. coli cell growth and is commonly used for protein expression. Since minimal medium does not usually produce efficient expression levels, we explored modifications of minimal medium to see if it is possible to significantly enhance the yield of this target protein. The potential enhancements that were tested included the addition of a metal ion cocktail, cholesterol, and/or eukaryotic phospholipids to classical minimal medium. Combinations of three additives were also tested to see if even higher yields are obtained. Our goal was to provide a significantly enhanced version of minimal medium, which we refer to as “maximal minimal medium”.