Grant: $18,346 - National Institutes of Health - Jul. 15, 2009
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Award Description: Helicobacter pylori infections are associated with the majority of gastric cancers, which are the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The most carcinogenic strains of H. pylori strains are ones whose genomes encode a type IV secretion system and its substrate, the CagA protein. During infection, CagA is translocated into stomach epithelial cells where it disrupts host cell signaling. The goal of the parent grant, 1 R01 DK075667-01A1, entitled 'Molecular and genetic analysis of the Helicobacter pylori virulence factor CagA', is to investigate the molecular mechanisms through which the Helicobacter pylori effector protein CagA disrupts epithelial signaling transduction pathways and organization to promote disease. We have established a transgenic Drosophila model that allows us to use genetic approaches to investigate CagA's mechanisms of action in intact epithelia in a living organism. In Aim 3 of the parent grant we proposed to carry out a small-scale genetic screen designed to identify genes that mediate CagA function in eukaryotic cells. The requested supplement supported two summer undergraduate researchers to participate in the genetic screen described in the parent grant on a significantly larger scale than originally proposed. Drosophila genetics is an excellent area to introduce undergraduate students to biomedical research. The rapid pace of experimentation and the wealth of genetic tools available will ensure that the students are able to make good progress over the summer and be able to experience the satisfaction of original research discoveries.
Project Description: The goals of the summer project were to provide training for promising undergraduate researchers in laboratory science and to make progress on a genetic screen in the model organism Drosophila designed to elucidate the mechanism of action of the Helicobacter pylori virulence factor CagA. Two undergraduates were hired to work in the Guillemin lab over the summer. Together they completed the primary screening of an additional local collection of deficiency chromosomes for genetic interactions with CagA. In addition, they made important progress on a secondary screen to characterize genetic modifiers of CagA, measuring the integrity of cell junctions. One developed an immunohistochemistry assay to quantify the distribution of a junctional marker that is perturbed by CagA expression. The students used this assay to demonstrate that certain mutations alter the extent to which CagA perturbs cell junction structures. One student has moved on to start a graduate program in Biochemistry at Duke University. The other will continue to work on this project in the Guillemin lab.
Jobs Summary: The two summer jobs created were research technician positions. These jobs provided the undergraduate researchers with hands-on training in cutting edge biomedical research, including learning model organism genetics, tissue immunohistochemistry, microscopy, and data analysis. The training they received which will provide them with valuable skills for future training and employment opportunities. (Total jobs reported: 1)
Project Status: More than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jul. 15, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.