Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Discovering what genes do the high-throughput way

01.10.2003

Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Boston have developed a fast and systematic method that could make it easier to understand how cells from complex animals work. Their results, published this week in Journal of Biology, should inspire scientists to perform comprehensive screens of the fruit fly genome to find molecules that control a variety of cellular processes.

The research team, led by Norbert Perrimon, systematically inhibited the function of around 1,000 Drosophila genes that are predicted to affect diverse cellular processes. They observed that 16% of the inhibited genes altered the form or structure of the cells in some way.

Genes that caused the same changes in the cells when inhibited are likely to work together in a complex or pathway. Clustering genes by their effects allowed the researchers to assign functions to about 50 previously uncharacterised genes. Author Buzz Baum says, "The most exciting thing for me is that now you can take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You can find out which genes act together to do something, so you begin to build up a system-wide understanding of how cells work. Genes work in a community to do something, not on their own. With big-scale experiments you can start to see the internal logic of the cell."

The screening method makes use of RNA interference (RNAi) - introducing double stranded RNA into cells, to interfere with the expression of specific genes. In order to scale up the procedure, which normally tests one gene at a time, the researchers plated out cells into 384-well dishes and then added double stranded RNA to each well. After three days, when the targeted gene should be inhibited, they stained the cells so that they could visualise both DNA and components of the cytoskeleton. They then photographed the cells using an automated microscope.

Two postdoctoral researchers, Baum and Amy Kiger, independently studied the thousands of photographs generated by the screen to characterize the effects of the RNAi treatment on the cells. They created a formal set of criteria to judge the cells consisting of seven classes of change that could have been induced. These included changes to cell number, shape, size and viability. Any changes were only considered significant if both scientists recorded them in replica experiments.

The researchers were also keen to find out if their method could be used to screen for genes that worked in, or inhibited specific molecular pathways. Screens in whole flies for genes that modify the effect of a particular genetic mutation have proved powerful, though time consuming. By adding two sets of double stranded RNA to each well, one that targeted the tumor suppressor gene pten and the other the gene to be tested, the researchers found that they were able to identify genes that modified the effects of inhibiting pten in cells. "These results demonstrate that modifier screens, as previously done in vivo, can be extended to RNAi screening methodology in cell culture", write the researchers.

Drug companies are becoming interested in this technique, as the rate-limiting step in cell-based drug discovery is finding out which protein is inhibited by a particular drug. Using Perrimon’s method they can screen to see which gene, when inhibited, changes the cell in the same way as adding the drug.

"RNAi screens can complement classical Drosophila genetics to assign functions to both known and novel genes," write the researchers. "The same technology can be easily adapted to a wide variety of cell-based studies and a greater genomic scale."

Baum says, "The major difference between this and whole fly screens is that here we can be systematic. We can choose to look at any cell biological process and systematically test the set of genes that could be involved. In the future we will be able to screen the full genome in a few weeks, and look at any cell biological phenomenon."

This press release is based on the following article:

A functional genomic analysis of cell morphology using RNA interference
A A Kiger, B Baum, S Jones, M R Jones, A Coulson, C Echeverri, N Perrimon
Journal of Biology 2:27
http://jbiol.com/content/2/3/27
Published 1 October 2003

Gemma Bradley | BioMed Central
Further information:
http://jbiol.com/content/2/3/27
http://www.biomedcentral.com),

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal

14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>