CRISPR/Cas9 Mediated Mutagenesis in Danio rerio
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The Symposium provides undergraduates from all academic disciplines with an opportunity to share their research with the university community and other guests through conference-style oral presentations. The Symposium represents part of a larger effort of Iowa State University to enhance, support, and celebrate undergraduate research activity.
Though coordinated by the University Honors Program, all undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Symposium. Undergraduates conducting research but not yet ready to present their work are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the presentation process and students not currently involved in research are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the broad range of undergraduate research activities that are taking place at ISU.
The first Symposium was held in April 2007. The 39 students who presented research and their mentors collectively represented all of ISU's Colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Design, Engineering, Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate College. The event has grown to regularly include more than 100 students presenting on topics that span the broad range of disciplines studied at ISU.
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) serve as a very useful model organism because they have a fast generation time, clear embryos and a well mapped genome. In this research project, the students in the Developmental Biology lab course and the students in the Freshmen Research Initiative have used these characteristics to conduct a screening of the zebrafish genome in order to identify genes that are required for development. The CRISPR/Cas9 system (a protein that creates double strand breaks at specific sites in the genome that are then repaired by the cellular machinery) was recently specialized for the use in zebrafish. However, there are usually mistakes made when repairing the break. By using this system we can create mutations at specific sites in the genome and even delete entire sections. We can then observe if the mutation has created any notable phenotypes in the developing embryo. That information can give us insight into what the genetic requirements are for development or how those mechanisms can go wrong in diseases such as cancer.