Our research project was initially focused on the effects of consumer products on the health of cells. However, we recently had to change our project due to issues with instruments necessary to complete the research. The research has now shifted to looking at the differences in lipid production of male and female mice with a specific mutation. The title of our new project is “Inflammatory Lipids: Differences in Male and Female Production.” In this research we are looking specifically at lipid production of both male and female mice that have been genetically modified to produce a mutated COX2 enzyme that has a phenylalanine amino acid instead of a tyrosine amino acid at position 385 of the enzyme sequence (COX2Y385F). This mutation causes a loss of function in the protein which functions in the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are lipids that aid in the regulation of pathogenic mechanisms such as inflammatory response. Due to its function in the inflammatory response, the COX enzyme has been a target for pain reliever medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Initial clinical trials that provided information for effects of pain reliever medications included only men. Furthermore, until recently, medical research using rodents tended to use only males, due to the difficulty and expenses in studying both sexes. This research will help determine if there are any previously unknown differences in inhibition of the COX enzyme based on sex. We will first genotype the various mice to determine which mice have the mutation and which will serve as controls. This step will involve DNA extraction, PCR of extracted DNA, and gel electrophoresis. In the last few weeks, I have mastered the skills involved in genotyping and I have helped to develop a detailed protocol. Next we will determine the lipid production of these mice by analyzing the urine and protein concentration using a protein assay. These data will aid in determining differences in female and male production of prostaglandins with inhibited COX2 enzyme.