Exploring Transcription Bursting and Its Effect on Synchronicity of Gene Expression

Evan working at lab bench

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Project Summary

My project this past summer dealt with gene expression patterns in early age Drosophila (fruitfly) embryos. My project mentor set me off on mission to model transcription rates for a new set of genes in Drosophila. He understood that this would be a difficult challenge for an undergrad but was a huge help with every problem I faced.

 In order to model these genes I had to carry out extensive protocols over the course of days to get reliable data. My work began with growing and maintaining stocks of Drosophila. My fellow lab mates and I would collect embryos laid by the flies on petri dishes. Through a series of washes I fluorescently labeled RNA sequences specific to a particular gene I want to study. I used synthetic DNA sequences with an attached fluorophore molecule to label the RNA in Drosophila nuclei. Once labeled, I mounted these embryos on a slide for imaging. I imaged gene expression patterns in the embryos using a method called confocal microscopy, where lasers of varying wavelengths excite the fluorophore model so it lights up under the scope.

This process taught me many important biological procedures such as the use of Westerns, HPLC, fluorescent in situ hybridization, and many others. This has aided my education of work in a full wet lab, and has given me a large leap forward in the path of my Biophysics major.