Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Observing live gene expression in the body

01.07.2013
A team from UNIGE has developed a biotechnology that can be used in many biomedical sectors

Most of our physiological functions fluctuate throughout the day. They are coordinated by a central clock in the brain and by local oscillators, present in virtually every cell.

Many molecular gearwheels of this internal clock have been described by Ueli Schibler, professor at the Faculty of Science of the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland. To study how the central clock synchronizes subordinate oscillators, the researcher's group used a variety of genetic and technological tools developed in collaboration with a team of UNIGE physicians.

In this way, the scientists were able to directly observe the bioluminescence emitted by 'clock genes' in mice for several months. This biotechnology is applicable to numerous sectors of biomedical research, which attracted the attention of the editors from the journal "Genes & Development".

In mammals, there are many behaviors and biological functions that are regulated by internal clocks. Most of our cells have one, made from a family of 'clock genes', whose cyclic activity reaches a specific peak in 24 hours. These local oscillators are synchronized by a central 'pacemaker' in the brain which adjusts to light.

The firefly lights the way

The use of genetic engineering techniques enabled the study of molecular mechanisms that activate clock genes directly in cultured mammalian cells: 'We have coupled several of these genes to that of luciferase, the enzyme used by the female firefly for producing green light to attract males,' explained Ueli Schibler, member of the National Research Center Frontiers in Genetics. When a specific clock gene is activated in a cell that was transformed in this way, the light signal emitted can be measured using a highly sensitive bioluminescence detector. However, this device, which is capable of detecting signals on the order of a few photons, cannot be used for studying whole organisms.

The contribution of André Liani's mechanical workshop, along with Jean-Pierre Wolf's and Luigi Bonacina's teams from UNIGE's Group of Applied Physics, was thus essential. These scientists developed a customized device that can accommodate mice for several months: 'We equipped it with reflective walls to deflect photons toward a highly sensitive photomultiplier tube to capture bioluminescence,' says André Liani.

Follow the daily expression of clock genes live…

In collaboration with the University of Ulm and the Center for Integrative Genomics (CIG) of Lausanne, the biologists studied how the central clock synchronizes subordinate oscillators in mice. Various clock genes, coupled with the luciferase gene for light emission, were inserted into liver cells using a molecular vector. The time these rodents spent in the bioluminescent device allowed to demonstrate that the central clock generates signals, some of which act directly on the liver oscillators, and others which synchronize them indirectly by controlling the cycles of food intake.

…or the effect of a medication in mice

'This technology enables a drastic reduction in the number of mice needed for this type of experiment, and furthermore, it is applicable to many areas of biomedical research,' says Camille Saini, researcher in the Department of Molecular Biology at UNIGE and first author of this article. These complementary genetic and engineering technology tools could be used to directly follow certain biochemical effects of metabolites like cholesterol or glucose, as well as the response to potential treatments of diseases such as hypercholesterolemia or diabetes. Monitoring the response to various hormones, neurotransmitters and other biochemical messengers is also part of this application range.

Ueli Schibler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unige.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>