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As the worm turns, its secrets are revealed
Date:4/28/2011

"high-content" screening in which genes are individually inhibited and the consequences are documented by filming the behavior of individual cells.

Oegema, with the study's first author, Rebecca Green, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Ludwig Institute and UCSD School of Medicine, decided to take a different approach. "Rather than monitoring individual cells, we monitored the effect of gene inhibitions on the structure of a complex tissue in a multicellular organism," said Green. "In this case, the reproductive organ of C. elegans."

The scientists discovered that inhibiting different genes in the nematode produced a remarkably diverse and information-rich spectrum of effects on tissue structure, essentially creating a "fingerprint" for each gene that allowed them to predict its function.

Oegema and colleagues also developed a new method to quantitatively assess the significance of gene-gene connections, allowing them to translate the information into a functional gene network. In collaboration with Gunsalus and colleagues, who developed a Java-based tool for visualizing gene networks, they produced an integrated functional network for a set of 818 essential C. elegans genes, which has been made available to interested researchers.

The network, the scientists said, will be useful for predicting the function of related human genes and the broader approach may be useful for generating functional gene networks in other organisms, including vertebrates.


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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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