UTMB-CET: Molecular Genetics Core
The objective of the Molecular Genetics (MG) Core is to provide services, technical support and advice to Center Investigators in the areas of recombinant DNA technology, gene expression analysis and molecular genetics. To provide such services, the MG Core unites the resources and expertise of two existing facilities, the Recombinant DNA Laboratory (RDL) and the Molecular Genomics facility. The RDL is a Core Facility in the Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine and has been a source of support for the Center since 1995. Recombinant DNA technology remains an essential part of the experimental design of many of our current research programs. The RDL offers standard services such as DNA sequence analysis, plasmid DNA preparation and competent cell production, as well as a variety of more sophisticated support services like site-directed mutagenesis, bacterial and eukaryotic expression constructs and the construction of plasmids to create transgenic mice or null-gene (knock-out) mutants of specific genes.
The Molecular Genomics Facility, which was established as an extension of the RDL in May 2000, offers gene expression analysis to Center Investigators using both Affymetrix "Gene Chip" and custom microarray technologies. Validation of the differences in gene expression detected by expression analysis is obtained using MG Core support for real-time quantitative RT-PCR. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) occur frequently within the human genome (1 in every 1300 bases) and have a low mutation rate, making them an ideal basis for a genetic mapping tool to analyze the frequency of a specific phenotypic trait. The MG Core offers Center Investigators SNP analysis using the Affymetrix "Gene Chip" Mapping Assay. This system will provide the analysis of 100,000 SNPs in a single assay.
The MG Core offers support in areas of technical expertise that may not be common to every laboratory in the Center. Specific techniques that may be outside the primary research areas of an individual investigator's laboratory are accessible to Center Investigators through the MG Core. Technologies like gene expression analysis using either Affymetrix "Gene Chips" or microarrays require equipment and experience that cannot easily be duplicated in individual laboratories within the Center. The Core is an excellent solution to this problem. It reduces the cost in capital equipment and insures that a highly trained and experienced technician performs each of the expression assays.
Operation of the Core
Day-to-day operations and program management are the direct responsibilities of the Core Director, Thomas G. Wood, Ph.D. UTMB-CET investigators' access to the services and technical support offered by the MG Core is accomplished by submitting either a completed request form for the service (plasmid DNA, phage DNA, competent cells, DNA sequence analysis or "Gene chip" analysis) or a memorandum briefly describing the specific type of technical support required (mutagenesis, bacterial or eukaryotic expression, transgene or null-gene construct, plasmid construct, microarray production or analysis, or real-time PCR). The UTMB-CET is implementing an online service request process that will be tied into the laboratory information management system (LIMS) is being designed in collaboration with Genologics, Inc. Each request is assigned an identification number for tracking purposes. The requesting investigator is provided a cost estimate and a projected date of completion. Upon completion of the request, a product data sheet is provided with the appropriate material (plasmid DNA, competent cells) or the actual data, in the case of DNA sequence analysis or Affymetrix "Gene Chip" analysis.
The MGC provides protocols, consultation and advice on all of the techniques and methodology employed in providing the services and technical support offered by the Core. When appropriate, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will receive hands-on training with a specific technique that is required in their research program.
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