Results were published in on-line edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of Sept. 15 . Washington University collaborating institutions are the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Saint Louis University School of Medicine and Purdue University. The project was funded by the Danforth Foundation at Washington University and the National Science Foundation, and is also part of a Membrane Biology EMSL Scientific Grand Challenge project at the W.R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research program, located at PNNL.
The researchers found that the majority of proteins on the linear chromosome are hypothetical. But the gene cluster is a major find.
"The linear chromosome contains the only gene copy for lactate dehydrogenase, which facilitates one of the organism's fermenting capabilities, "said Jana Stckel, Ph.D., WUSTL postdoctoral researcher who worked with Pakrasi and WUSTL postdoctoral researchers Michelle Liberton, Ph.D., and Eric Welsh, Ph.D.
"In conjunction with the proteomics group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, we've been able to show that many of the genes in the linear chromosome are in fact expressing proteins, " said Liberton. "It's not just a piece of DNA sitting there. Transcription and translation are happening."
Comparative genomics is the theme for the next round of Pakrasi's research. His laboratory has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to sequence the genomes of six other Cyanothece organisms in a quest to find the best one to produce hydrogen.
"The goal is to find the hydrogen-producing workhorse of these seven, " Pakrasi said. "Work is ongoing, and I expect in a year or so we will learn a lot more. We wil
|Contact: Gayle Geren|
Washington University in St. Louis