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In a genetic research first, Mayo Clinic turns zebrafish genes off and on
Date:5/8/2011

ROCHESTER, Minn. Mayo Clinic researchers have designed a new tool for identifying protein function from genetic code. A team led by Stephen Ekker, Ph.D., succeeded in switching individual genes off and on in zebrafish, then observing embryonic and juvenile development. The study appears in the journal Nature Methods.

The work could help shed light on health-related problems such as how cancerous cells spread, what makes some people more prone to heart attacks, (http://www.mayoclinic.org/heart-attack/) or how genes factor in addiction. More complicated issues, like the genetics (http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-genetics-rst/) of behavior, plasticity and cellular memory, stress, learning and epigenetics, could also be studied with this method.

The research at Mayo Clinic's (http://www.mayoclinic.org/) Zebrafish Core Facility (http://mayoresearch.mayo.edu/mayo/research/zcf/) could help further unify biology and genomics by describing the complex interrelations of DNA, gene function and gene-protein expression and migration. The study examines protein expression and function from 350 loci among the zebrafish's approximately 25,000 protein-encoding genes. Researchers plan to identify another 2,000 loci.

"I consider this particular system a toolbox for answering fundamental scientific questions," says Dr. Ekker, a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist and lead author of the article. "This opens up the door to a segment of biology that has been impossible or impractical with existing genomics research methods."

For the First Time

The study includes several technical firsts in genetic research. Those include a highly effective and reversible insertional transposon mutagen. In nearly all loci tested, e
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Contact: Robert Nellis
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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