The Research Instrumentation and Cell Services core facility (RICS) provides access to a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment and specialised cell services. Our lab offers technical / scientific support and training for all equipment currently housed within the Facility, as well as in all aspects of cell / tissue culture. We also provide access, tracking and storage of cell lines for all research and core groups, and routine cell culture quality control testing (mycoplasma testing and cell line authentication). We regularly optimise current or new techniques for our instruments and services, and horizon scan to maximise the quality of data that we can generate.
Protein gel electrophoresis
We provide access to a wide range of gel electrophoresis equipment for analysis of protein samples, including a fully automated Western blotting instrument (ProteinSimple Wes). We have the capability for both 1- and 2-dimensional separation of proteins which together with our range of digital camera and scanner imaging systems digitise images improving the accuracy of quantification.
The Biacore T100 (T200 sensitivity enhanced) is capable of measuring molecular interactions in real-time. It can provide label-free measurements of the affinity and kinetics of interactions, as well as the thermodynamic properties underlying association and dissociation rates. This instrument has proved pivotal in a number of on-going research studies at the Institute investigating the kinetics of protein:protein interactions, protein:DNA interactions and peptide:liposome interactions.
Plate readers and spectrophotometers
The Research Instrumentation core provides access to three high-specification plate readers (a BMG PHERAstar FS with plate stacker, a BMG CLARIOstar and a Tecan Infinite 200). These are used extensively by most research groups in the Institute for a wide range of absorbance, fluorescence and/or luminescence assays. Our final absorbance spectrophotometer is a Direct Detect spectrophotometer for accurate quantification of small volume protein samples.
The core houses a number of imaging systems that produce digital images from a wide range of different samples. The Amersham Typhoon 5 produces images of radioactive, visible/near infra-red fluorescent or chemiluminescent samples, while the Li-Cor Odyssey CLx images fluorescence specifically in the infra-red region. ImageScanner III is a high-resolution flatbed scanner for imaging non-fluorescent samples. The facility also has a high resolution camera system, the Amersham Imager, capable of capturing both fluorescent and chemiluminescent images, and a GelCount colony counter. Finally we are able to quantify cell behaviour over time in real-time using our IncuCytes, a live-cell imaging platform. Dedicated analysis software packages can accurately quantify data 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
Research Instrumentation houses an 8-channel NanoDrop, a DeNovix DS-11 fluorimeter and several Qubit instruments for quantification of small volume nucleic acid (and protein) samples. We also have a Blue Pippin for resolving and collecting DNA, a CHEF III pulsed-field gel electrophoresis system for separation of large DNA molecules, a real-time PCR instrument, and a number of E-Gel iBases/MotherBases for fast separation of DNA and RNA.
To assist with maintaining good cell culture practice in the Institute, we offer a weekly mycoplasma testing service, and a monthly cell line authentication service for both human and mouse-derived cell lines, and mandatory cell culture training for all new starters. Our Core also provides a state-of-the-art cryostorage facility, suitable for storing up to half a million samples in liquid Nitrogen. We manage the storage of all samples centrally by providing secure storage, a robust database (ItemTracker) and restricted access to all samples.