Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Individual gene differences can be tested in zebrafish

26.10.2012
The zebrafish is a potential tool for testing one class of unique individual genetic differences found in humans, and may yield information helpful for the emerging field of personalized medicine, according to a team led by Penn State College of Medicine scientists.

The differences, or mutations, in question create minor changes in amino acids -- the building blocks of DNA -- from person to person. Zebrafish can be used as a model to understand what biological effects result from these genetic mutations.

Personalized medicine uses modern technology and tools to find biological and genetic differences in individuals so that treatment is more effectively delivered.

"A major challenge of personalized medicine is the lack of a standard way to define the importance of each of the many unique mutations found in an individual's genetic code," said Keith Cheng, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology and lead researcher. "Approaches are particularly needed to experimentally determine what differences these mutations make. It is difficult to distinguish the effects of a single amino acid change caused by those changes in our DNA."

The zebrafish is a good choice because of its similarity to humans as a vertebrate, its transparency as an embryo and the powerful genetic tools available in this model organism.

The Cheng lab's approach is like testing small damages in car parts, one at a time. For example, a "mutant" car headlight is known not to work when a certain connector is missing. Taking a normally functioning connector out of a working headlight and replacing it with a connector damaged in a specific way -- a cracked wire casing or a corroded wire connector, for example -- can show whether the damage matters. If the light works, then that mutation makes no difference on the function of the headlight. If the light does not work, the mutation has an effect.

Postdoctoral fellow Zurab Tsetskhladze, who performed the zebrafish experiments, tested this method with two genes that affect skin color. He started with an equivalent of the broken car part: mutant zebrafish with lighter pigment cells. First, Tsetskhladze confirmed that by injecting normal messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) into the mutant zebrafish, the lighter pigment cells become "cured" -- or darker --like those of a normal zebrafish. Messenger RNA makes the cells produce the protein the scientists want to study.

Tsetskhladze was then able to test RNA with only one "human" mutation to see if cure was still possible. Cure suggests that the mutation does not matter. If cure is prevented by the mutation, the conclusion is that the protein's function is affected by the amino acid difference being tested.

Cheng's lab works with zebrafish to study genetic differences that contribute to human skin color. Scientists want to determine the role these differences play in the development of skin cancer, and to find ways to better protect people from cancer.

In the current study, two of the amino acid differences that Cheng has shown in prior studies to contribute to light skin color in humans prevented the zebrafish color from darkening. A third amino acid difference that is common in Eastern Asians was of unknown effect. The researchers found that the change made no difference in function in zebrafish. This finding matched the findings of K.C. Ang, postdoctoral fellow, who found no effect of the tested change on the skin color of East Asians.

To see if this approach might be used in other ways, Stephen Wentzel, graduate student, Penn State College of Medicine, looked at mutations in the four genes known to contribute to albinism, which lightens the color of skin, eyes and hair, and is associated with any one of more than 250 known single amino acid differences. He found that at least 210 of these are theoretically testable in the zebrafish. This new test may help scientists to determine which mutations can be ignored and which may need action – such as a change in life habit.

"This approach may potentially be extended to other biological functions and may therefore be useful in personalized medicine," Cheng said.

The researchers published their findings in PLoS ONE.

Other researchers are Khai C. Ang, Steven M. Wentzel and Katherine P. Reid, all of Jake Gittlen Cancer Research Foundation, Division of Experimental Pathology, Penn State College of Medicine; Victor A. Canfield, Department of Pharmacology, Penn State College of Medicine; Arthur S. Berg, Department of Public Health Sciences, and Stephen L. Johnson, Department of Genetics, Washington University Medical School; and Koichi Kawakami, Division of Molecular and Developmental Biology, National Institute of Genetics, Japan.

This work was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Matthew Solovey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht 'Y' a protein unicorn might matter in glaucoma
23.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry
23.10.2017 | Rice University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>