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Funding Update for Mar 31, 2009


Molecular Modules of Aggression; Maternal Behavior in the African Cichlid Astatotilapia Burtoni. Start Date: Jan. 1. Expires: Dec. 31, 2012. Awarded Amount to Date: $349,946. Principal Investigator: Susan Renn. Sponsor: Reed College

This project examines different forms of aggression in the African cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni. Aggression in males of this species is associated with territoriality and is regulated by social factors and testosterone. Previous research has identified brain regions, physiological mechanisms, and patterns of gene expression that underlie the variety of aggression levels in males. By comparison, laboratory stock females, which do not care for their young, do not show stereotypical forms of aggression. However, aggression can be induced in the laboratory by manipulating the social environment. This form of female aggression, as in males, is associated with elevated testosterone levels. Recent observations of a newly acquired wild stock reveal a "good mother" phenotype that includes defensive aggression to protect free-swimming fry. This new stock will allow a comparison of different hormone levels correlated with different levels of maternal aggression. In their study, the Reed researchers will use a cDNA microarray to identify gene-expression patterns associated with maternal aggression. The pattern of gene expression can then be compared between natural maternal aggression, induced female aggression, and territorial male aggression. This work aims to answer questions regarding the extent of overlap between the gene sets that regulate each of these forms of aggression and will identify specific subsets of the gene-expression pattern that are associated with male, female, and maternal forms of aggression.

Nanoelectronic Microfluidic Biochip for Ultrasensitive Detection of Selective Protein Biomarkers. Start Date: Feb. 1. Expires: Jan. 31, 2014. Awarded Amount to Date: $400,000. Sponsor: University of Texas - Arlington

This project aims to develop new modalities for the isolation and detection of selective protein biomarkers by using aptamer-protein interactions in nano or microfluidic channels or chambers with multiplexed nanoscale electrodes and on-chip data processing. The investigators will adopt a strategy of fabrication and modeling that includes: a) developing functionalized membranes to isolate low-abundant disease biomarkers; b) designing and developing a biochip with individually addressable nanoelectrodes, made with high-throughput nanoimprint lithography and functionalized with aptamers for multiplexed detection of biomarkers; c) developing novel and rapid fabrication of nano or microfluidic channels; d) modeling, analyzing, and characterizing the electronic properties of biomarker-aptamer interactions measured between the nano-electrodes; and e) using the real-time, low-power, noise-free read-out circuit with sequential addressing, actuation, measurement, and data analysis of the recognition sites.

Whole Genome Analysis of Hepatic Gene Silencing. Start Date: Feb. 1, 2009. Expires: Jan. 31, 2010. Awarded Amount to Date: $64,881. Principal Investigator: Gary Bulla. Sponsor: Eastern Illinois University

In this project, the researchers will analyze the phenomenon of gene silencing using whole-genome microarray analysis. They will compare genome-wide gene expression in liver-derived cells with that observed in cell types that have silenced liver gene expression. They will validate the data by analyzing gene expression of potentially interesting genes using cell-based read-out assays to screen for restoration or repression of liver gene function. The ultimate goal is to identify genes involved in gene silencing in cell hybrids and hepatoma variants. Specifically, genes that show at least fivefold differences in expression and encode proteins that contain signature motifs associated with transcriptional regulatory proteins will be analyzed. These analyses will include placing genes into classes based on DNA sequence similarities to genes of known function. Finally, the researchers will test candidate regulatory genes for either activation or repression of target genes.

Comparative Evolutionary Genomics of Cotton. Start Date: March 1. Expires: Feb. 28, 2010. Awarded Amount to Date: $914,190. Principal Investigator: Jonathan Wendel. Sponsor: Iowa State University

This project will use genomic research tools to investigate the complexities involved in transforming primitive epidermal seed hairs to the economically important fibers of modern cotton cultivars. The planned experiments involve four interrelated components: a) developing and characterizing immortal introgression lines to reduce complex morphology into smaller units amenable to functional genomic analyses; b) developing a gene expression-profiling platform using a vastly enriched EST resource; c) studying perturbations in genetic networks and gene expression associated with naturally occurring variation in fiber phenotypes by using the introgression lines; and d) providing a foundation for understanding the effects of selection on genetic diversity in cotton. In addition to addressing these questions, the project will generate physical resources and intellectual tools for cotton research and improvement, including: a) a new public microarray platform and a vastly enriched, web-accessible EST resource for cotton; b) a publicly available immortal introgression populations for functional genomic and genetic analyses; c) insight into the genes and biological processes important in fiber development and agronomic improvement; and d) a framework for future diversity analyses in cotton.

Arabidopsis 2010: Global Analysis of Translational Regulons. Start Date: March 1, 2009. Expires: Feb. 28, 2010. Awarded Amount to Date: $569,681. Principal Investigator: Daniel Gallie. Sponsor: University of California-Riverside

This project plans to a) determine the developmental, physiological, and stress-related phenotypes of eukaryotic initiation factor mutants in Arabidopsis; b) identify candidate client mRNAs whose translation is controlled by specific EIFs using DNA microarray analysis on polysomal RNA from EIF mutants; and c) validate EIF and client mRNA translational regulation using in vivo mRNA-reporter constructs.