Diverse recognition capability: an invertebrate model
Using the pulmonate gastropod Biomphalaria glabrata as a model organism, our recent studies have shown that genes encoding the snail blood proteins termed fibrinogen-related proteins (FREPs) can be extensively diversified by both mutational and recombinatorial processes. The underling mechanism for generation of diversity and its biological rationale remain unclear. Based on our previous studies we have been applying DNA sequencing and computational analysis to investigate whether the FREP diversification originates during meiosis or somatic development, and whether the diversified sequences are expressed. More studies to illuminate the mechanism of the FREP diversity will be incorporated in future investigations.
Since the FREPs were originally found in the snail B. glabrata, the intermediate host for the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni, we are particularly interested in knowing the role of FREPs in anti-parasitic activity. We have been developing RNA interference (RNAi), as a technique to assess FREP function in the snails. As a part of efforts to understand the fundamental mechanisms of internal defense in the snails, such studies may benefits the control of the schistosomiasis, a snail-borne disease that affects 200 million people world-wide.
- This project is funded by NIH through CETI,
a COBRE project.