Analyzing the Effects of Yersinia pestis Infection on Gene Expression

Yersinia pestis. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
While scientists using ancient DNA analysis are learning how Yersinia pestis developed over time into the causative agent of three worldwide pandemics, there is still much to learn about the early hours and days of an organism infected with the plague. Y. pestis still infects humans so any insight into disease progression is useful for determining treatment timing and even developing novel treatments to supplement or replace antibiotics. A 2012 study observed how Y. pestis injected into mice spread throughout the body using bioluminescent imaging to track the infection. More recent research reported in PLOS ONE used a more real-world route of infection by introducing an aerosolized Y. pestis to a nonhuman primate model and tracking the transcripts altered during the first 42 hours of infection. Continue reading “Analyzing the Effects of Yersinia pestis Infection on Gene Expression”

The Living Microarray: The ‘Coming Of Age’ Of Transcription Profiling

American artist Andrew Leicester has made a bit of a name for himself at Iowa State University by incorporating his art into the architectural design of the University’s Molecular Biology Building. Leicester’s much heralded G-Nome Project represents his attempt to evince the benefits and threats of genetic engineering to society, through sculpture and mosaic (1). I chanced upon Leicester’s art five years ago as an instructor at a Promega/Corning collaborative workshop in Iowa on the applicability of microarrays in transcription profiling. The workshop aimed to bring Promega’s cDNA synthesis chemistries and Corning’s cutting-edge UltraGAPS slide technologies to the attention of a small group of ebullient young scientists with a broad spectrum of research backgrounds. The floor of the atrium right outside our teaching room showcased Leicester’s ‘Novel Agents’ mosaic, incorporating a super-genetic monster as a warning of the potential perils of genetic manipulation.

Microarray results from the Iowa workshop gave us only endpoint data for the experimental conditions we were studying.

Fortunately for us, the ever-prolific genomics era seems not to have spawned the terrors that Leicester depicted in his art (at least nothing as singularly destructive as a super-genetic monster). To be sure, genetic research is playing its role in the development of novel pharmaceuticals for today’s most challenging diseases.  One can be similarly upbeat about the world of transcription profiling. Microarrays have come a long way since the days of self printing on a slide for single time point analysis.  Continue reading “The Living Microarray: The ‘Coming Of Age’ Of Transcription Profiling”