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Gene discovery made easier with powerful new networking technique
Date:1/29/2008

twork, Lee, a postdoctoral researcher in Marcottes group, synthesized data from about 20 million experiments from around the world. A visual representation of the networkwhich has the appeal of a work of modern artis a complex web of lines interconnecting the worms 16,000 genes.

In one set of studies, the researchers looked for genes that cause tumors in the worms. The tumors are a model for human eye cancer (retinoblastoma) and appear as growths along the length of the worms bodies.

By searching the network, they found about 170 new genes that could have been involved in the development of tumors.

Then Marcottes colleagues at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge in the United Kingdom tested the function of the new genes by inactivating them with a technique known as RNAi. The technique mimics the action of a potential drug by knocking out the function of individual genes.

They found that inactivating 16 of the 170 genes reversed tumors in the worms.

In similar studies, the researchers identified genes that regulate life span in the worms and manipulated the genes to extend the worms lives by 55 percent.

This sets the stage for making equivalent networks for the mouse and human genome, Marcotte says. Then we hope we can discover genes that are causal for disease conditions in humans.


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Contact: Edward Marcotte
marcotte@icmb.utexas.edu
512-471-5435
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert

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