Analyzing Operon Co-Occurrence of Genes to Infer Functional Relationships in Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Mentor: Robert Riley, Genome Biology Program
With the availability of the genomes of so many organisms, comparative genomics has become a valuable tool for scientists to learn more about organisms on a genomic level. This approach is especially effective in organisms whose genomes, while completely sequenced, still have many genes of unknown or unclear function.
Given the emergence of multidrug resistant (MDR) strains of tuberculosis, it is vitally important that new treatments are developed that can be effective. One way to develop these treatments is to find new targets for drugs, by determining the function of some of the genes that may be involved in disease. Kunle and his colleagues at the Broad developed a comparative genomic approach that looked at patterns of contiguous genes in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and related organisms to infer functional linkages. While further analysis is needed, his research is part of the first steps in determining function of unknown genes and, in the long run, developing new treatments for TB.
"Working on this project at the Broad really gave me a sense of what real scientific research is like. Through the setbacks and successes, I feel that I have grown as a scientist and as a person during my work here."
Kunle Demuren, a junior majoring in molecular biology at Princeton University, worked on a method that utilizes comparative genomics to help predict functional relationships between genes in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and related organisms.