Rights: The University of Waikato Published 27 November 2007 Download

Dr Love's work at Auckland University involves altering the gene expression of zebrafish. Here, he explains to Year 13 students from Taipa and Stratford what he needs to know first.


Taipa Area School We’re wondering how you choose a certain chromosome, cut it up, and change all the DNA

Dr Love Auckland University What I think you should be starting from, is asking the simple question: If I have a human disease, what genes are affected in that disease? Let’s say neuromuscular disease, something simple and monogenic, that is, mutations in one gene, one amongst the thirty or forty thousand genes.

You should ask yourself, okay, if I know that, then have I got the same gene or relative of that gene in my model species? For me it’s zebrafish, or if you are in America, zeebra-fish.

Additional to that is, have I got enough sequence information of that gene to affect the expression of that gene? So now I need sequence information. Fortunately for the zebrafish, there is a huge genome sequencing effort that’s being undertaken at the Sanger Institute just out of Cambridge in the UK. So we have a lot of sequence information.

You would need to know the sequence information of the exons of the gene. It’s a eukaryote, so we are looking at genomic DNA comprising exons with intervening introns. You need the exon information to design RNA elements [interfering RNA] that lead to degradation of the transcript expressed by this gene. So the exon sequence data is important for us.