Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

In a genetic research first, Mayo Clinic turns zebrafish genes off and on

09.05.2011
Mayo Clinic researchers have designed a new tool for identifying protein function from genetic code. A team led by Stephen Ekker, Ph.D., succeeded in switching individual genes off and on in zebrafish, then observing embryonic and juvenile development. The study appears in the journal Nature Methods.

The work could help shed light on health-related problems such as how cancerous cells spread, what makes some people more prone to heart attacks, (http://www.mayoclinic.org/heart-attack/) or how genes factor in addiction.

More complicated issues, like the genetics (http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-genetics-rst/) of behavior, plasticity and cellular memory, stress, learning and epigenetics, could also be studied with this method.

The research at Mayo Clinic's (http://www.mayoclinic.org/) Zebrafish Core Facility (http://mayoresearch.mayo.edu/mayo/research/zcf/) could help further unify biology and genomics by describing the complex interrelations of DNA, gene function and gene-protein expression and migration. The study examines protein expression and function from 350 loci among the zebrafish's approximately 25,000 protein-encoding genes. Researchers plan to identify another 2,000 loci.

"I consider this particular system a toolbox for answering fundamental scientific questions," says Dr. Ekker, a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist and lead author of the article. "This opens up the door to a segment of biology that has been impossible or impractical with existing genomics research methods."

For the First Time

The study includes several technical firsts in genetic research. Those include a highly effective and reversible insertional transposon mutagen. In nearly all loci tested, endogenous expression knockdown topped 99 percent.

The research yielded the first collection of conditional mutant alleles outside the mouse; unlike popular mouse conditional alleles that are switched from "on" to "off," zebrafish mutants conditionally go from "off" to "on," offering new insight into localized gene requirements. The transposon system results in fluorescence-tagged mutant chromosomes, opening the door to an array of new genetic screens that are difficult or impossible to conduct using more traditional mutagenesis methods, such as chemical or retroviral insertion.

The project also marks the first in vivo mutant protein trap in a vertebrate. Leveraging the natural transparency of the zebrafish larvae lets researchers document gene function and protein dynamics and trafficking for each protein-trapped locus. The research also ties gene/protein expression to function in a single system, providing a direct link among sequence, expression and function for each genetic locus.

Researchers plan to integrate information from this study into a gene codex that could serve as a reference for information stored on the vertebrate genome.

Shedding Light on Disease

Researchers exposed translucent zebrafish to transposons, "jumping genes" that move around inside the genome of a cell. The transposons instructed zebrafish cells to mark mutated proteins with a fluorescent protein 'tag.'

"This makes investigation of a whole new set of issues possible," Dr. Ekker says. "It adds an additional level of complexity to the genome project."

Dr. Ekker's team maintains about 50,000 fish in the Zebrafish Core Facility. To observe, photograph and document mutations of that many minnow-sized fish, the team works with an international team of researchers and gets helps from Rochester public elementary school teachers. Under a program with Mayo Clinic and Winona State University called InSciEd Out (Integrated Science Education Outreach), teachers document mutations and learn about the scientific method.

Other members of the research team include Karl Clark, Ph.D.; Yonghe Ding, Ph.D.; Stephanie Westcot; Victoria Bedell; Tammy Greenwood; Mark Urban; Kimberly Skuster; Andrew Petzold, Ph.D.; Jun Ni, Ph.D.; and Xiaolei Xu, Ph.D., all of Mayo Clinic; Darius Balciunas, Ph.D.; Aubrey Nielsen; and Sridhar Sivasubbu, Ph.D., all of the University of Minnesota; Hans-Martin Pogoda, Ph.D., and Matthias Hammerschmidt, Ph.D., of the University of Cologne in Germany; and Ashok Patowary and Vinod Scaria, Ph.D., of the Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology in New Delhi.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and Mayo Clinic funded the study.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org/about/ and www.mayoclinic.org/news.

Contact:
Robert Nellis
507-284-5005 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)
Email: newsbureau@mayo.edu

Robert Nellis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mayo.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>