Thursday, April 9, 2009

More flies

These are some of the things I've been up to lately. Mostly flies.

Some Garageband.

I don't buy limes.

But flies are always on my mind. I'm nearing the end of a project where I've been mating flies so that they'll have one deleted gene. Next week I can see if this reversion was a success and figure out what the mutant flies are up to. I'm also screening a library of Drosophila genes against our gene to see what is interacting with our gene. We're coming at these genes from a few angles--what they do in a cell, as well as who they interact with to do it-- and then characterize what the proteins do and what happens when they don't work quite right.

We study WASp family proteins (Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome), which when not functionioning properly can cause low blood platelet count as well as immune dificiency, mostly in children (I think). But our lab doesn't study that directly. We're looking at how the genes that cause Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome function in relation to actin and microtubules, which form the scaffolding and intracellular transportation system, and trigger cytoskeletal rearrangments for structural purposes, locomotion, or intracellular transport along cables. I'm working on two of the newer ones that no one really knows much about. We all have some pretty good guesses simply because particular domains of it's DNA sequence is conserved between flies, mammals, and more primitive organisms, so it most likely does a similar job, but with important specific regulations and mechanisms that are unique and we want to figure out. Our lab was collaborating with another who works with mammalian systems to identify one of the genes I'll be studying, and another mammalian researcher found a new member of WASP proteins that's the second I'll be trying to characterize. It's pretty sweet.

And finally, Frank Zappa is rad. Especially his albums the Grand Wazoo, and Waka/Jawaka. If you like fusion like it's supposed to be played, alongside classical arrangements in the Zappa style, these are good. MOstly instrumental, which I kind of like because Zappa has the reputation of having a dirty mouth (depending on the year), yet I also don't like that there's no singing because the album Apostrophe, which was also recorded in the same years as these (1972-4) was so good. Frank Zappa is rad.