Evaluating the function of genes implicated Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) formation using C. elegans

The title of my project is “Evaluating the function of genes implicated Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) formation using C. elegans.Caenorhabditis elegans (C.elegans) is an ideal organism for studying genes and proteins in humans on a genetic and molecular level. Humans have many genes in common with C.elegans, some of which may be associated with the development of cancer in humans. C. elegans is a valuble model system that we can study to get insights into how cell division is controlled and to understand how misregulation of cell division can ultimately lead to cancer. The goal of this study is to identify which genes present in C.elegans play a role in cancer development. In particular we are interested in genes that are known to play a role in the development of Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which is an aggressive form of brain cancer with very low rates of survival.

There are current and past studies that demonstrate there is a link between genetic variance and tumorigenesis (cancer development) in humans. These studies involved real-life and model cases where gene mutation resulted in the cancer. Furthermore, many studies implicate that the mutation of one specific gene is capable of disrupting other genes in the genome that have linked molecular/cellular interactions with that mutated gene. The changes in the genes may be so small, involving even a few proteins. This project will help elucidate and affirm how changes in genes could affect cell function that, in turn, could ultimately cause cancer.

First, I will identify which genes implicated in GBM development are also present in C. elegans.  Then I will conduct RNA inference (RNAi) experiments in C. elegans, which will allow me to disrupt gene function and determine the function of those genes. After the RNAi experiments I will assess if cell division is disrupted by looking at embryo development. During embryo development, the cell must maintain the proper regulation of the cell cycle if not the embryo will not develop properly, which is similar to the errors that are seen in many cancers. These experiments will allow us to determine mechanistically what parts of the cell cycle are being affected and pinpoint the essential proteins that are linked to these abnormalities.