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Full Stream Name: Engineering Yeast to Model Human Disease

Research Educator: Chris Yellman 

Principal Investigator: Edward Marcotte

Credit Options: Spring & Fall

Living cells have a highly modular set of parts, notably including DNA and proteins.  DNA is the universal storage system for biological information, while the proteins encoded by genes are the workhorses of life.  Proteins are the enzymes, motors, signal transducers and regulators that build, maintain and replicate cells.  In this stream we investigate the modularity of orthologous proteins, or proteins in different species that are known to have descended from a common ancestor.  We expect that human proteins placed into a yeast cell will function similarly, although not exactly, to their yeast orthologs.  To exploit yeast as a model for human protein function, we will precisely replace yeast genes with their human orthologs.  Using DNA synthesis by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and basic yeast genetic engineering, the human genes will be moved into yeast chromosomes, precisely replacing their yeast orthologs.  Human genes with disease-causing mutations should show similar defects in yeast cells.  Therefore, studying a mutant human gene in a yeast chromosome may shed light on the causes of human genetic diseases.

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Biology