This summer, I performed research at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) with a focus in molecular biology and biochemistry. I learned that p53 can be influenced by several groups of proteins created during the DNA damage response like the formation of complex p300-JMY-TTC5, which regulates p53 activity. The experience taught me the fundamentals of molecular biology and biochemical techniques which are ubiquitous across research in science. I learned how to manipulate cellular processes in my favor by culturing cells, cloning, sequencing clones for verification, transfecting cell lines to express the genes of interest, isolating proteins by affinity and size exclusion methods, and studying the gene products produced by cell cultures via electron microscopy (EM). I generated a model of JMY in complex with TTC5 by EM to study the JMY-TTC5-P300 complex’s role in apoptotic regulation by association with p53. The knowledge acquired at BCM allows the Molecular Biosciences Research Group to advance our current research, such as studying the molecular mechanisms underlying the inhibition of melanomagenesis and genome wide transcriptional regulators, and undertake new avenues of study such as genome editing.
To further the XRG’s work studying the transcriptional response of various species of fish to light, I had the unique opportunity to go to Heidelberg Germany to learn a revolutionary gene editing technique using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR). I used this technique to insert a Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) tag onto genes found to be transcriptionally modulated in Medaka fish after exposure to discrete light wavelengths, allowing us to view, in real time, the light induced up- and down- regulation of genes at different time points through changes in GFP expression levels. In addition to learning about how the CRISPR system works, I also learned the basics of molecular cloning and injecting embryos. Currently, I am using the knowledge gained in Germany to equip the XRG lab with the materials and protocols necessary to continue working with CRISPR.