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NIH awards Penn scientists $10 million over 5 years for innovative research on single cells
Date:11/14/2012

PHILADELPHIA James Eberwine, PhD, Elmer Holmes Bobst Professor of Pharmacology in the Perelman School of Medicine, and Junhyong Kim, PhD, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences, will be studying the role of how messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules vary in their function in individual cells with a five-year, $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Their award is supported by the NIH Common Fund and is part of three initiatives of the Single Cell Analysis Program (SCAP). Eberwine and Kim are also Co-directors of the Penn Genomic Frontiers Institute.

The goal of the Penn grant is to characterize the variability in identity and abundances of RNA molecules that are transcribed from the genome of human neurons and heart cells. These are the so-called excitable cells, those that use bioelectricity for communication and everyday functions. Many human nervous system diseases derive from changes in electrical responsiveness of neurons and heart arrhythmias account for many heart-related deaths.

There are considerable cell-to-cell differences in function associated with normal environmental stimuli and in dysfunction associated with disease in excitable cells. This is likely involved in why cells respond differently to such stimuli as drugs and disease proteins. Understanding this variation may provide insights into how cells respond individually and in coordinated groups to aging and disease challenges.

The Penn team proposes to look at the extent of single-cell variation for the entire transcriptome of different excitable cell types and also for a subset of mRNAs that encode therapeutically important molecules called G protein-couple receptors.

They will combine key technologies developed in the Eberwine and Kim labs to approach single-cell variation. The Eberwine lab developed the methods for single-cell mRNA analysis including a novel functional genomics technology c
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Contact: Karen Kreeger
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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