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use of celegans

Bob Waterston bwaterst at mitosis.wustl.edu
Tue Jul 1 17:28:15 EST 1997

Answers t oyour questions are below:
   From: dplant at PO-BOX.MCGILL.CA (Caroline Julien)
   Date: 1 Jul 1997 11:04:32 -0700
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   I am a journalist of "Qu=E9bec Science" a Canadian scientific magazine. The=

   subject of the paper I am preparing is laboratory animals. I will present =

   some animals that are used in research, the c elegans for example.  I =

   would be very happy if you tell me:
   1. Why you choose to use this animal in your research activities. =
 Because it is an animal with most of the various tissues we associate
with mammals, but is very much simpler and highly amenable to
experimental study.  Its short life cycle and large brood sizes allow
quite powerful genetic approaches, probably the most powerful genetic
system among animals.  The genome is small so that molecular analysis
of genes is facilitated.  This has also allowed us to complete the
physical map of the chromosomes and we are almost through sequencing
the entire DNA complement.  Finally it is transparent throughout its
life cycle so that the full series of divisions that give rise to the
959 somatic cells of the adult are known and every cell type is
   2. Are there incovenients to use this nematode
 There is no tissue culture.  And the small size (~1mm) has inhibited
   3. How do you like your c elegans? Do you become infatuated with this =

   animal???! =
  I am infatuated with the system.  I'm not sure about the animals.
   4. Where do you find your nematods
  Free liiving (nonparasitic) nematodes are ubiquitous in soils
throughout the world.  Originally the nematode that gave rise to the
laboratory strain was obtained from a compost heap in Bristol,
England.  Now all the lab strains derive from a single siolate that
Sydney Brenner selected in the 60's.
   5. Is c elegans have futur in the laboratories
  The similarity of C. elegans genes to human genes (and other animal
genes), the power of the experimental system and the excellent community of 
scientists studying the 'worm' should ensure a bright future for the field
as long as genes are studied.
   6. Are there famous researches that were done with this nematode
  Major discoveries have been made in the fields of neurobiology and
developmental biology.  These include the discovery of the genetic
pathway involved in programmed cell death (the same pathway is found
in humans and aberrations in it lead to at least one form of cancer);
the discovery of the substrate molecules that neorons migrate on to
find their targets (nexins); various genes involved in regulating
development; the elucidation of the genes/proteins in the ras
signalling pathway.  In addition systematic study of the C. elegans
genome has led the way on genomic studies.  When the sequence is
complete next year it will be by far the largest genome sequenced and
the first animal genome.  The methods developed in the study of the
worm genome have paved the way for the human genome studies currently
   7. Who is Sydney Brenner
  Brenner is a famous molecular biologist who did his early work on
bacteria and bacteriophage.  He played a part in discovering the
existence of mRNA as an intermediate between DNA and protein; he
showed in an elegant series of genetic experiments that the DNA code
used 3 bases (the triplet code); he demonstrated for the first time
that the order of DNA bases in the gene corresponded with the order of
amino acids in proteins (the colinearity of DNA and proteins).  Having
made these very fundamental discoveries in the late 50's and early
60's he set out to study the more complicated phenomena of animals and
selected C. elegans as teh ideal animal for such studies.  Almost all
the workers in the field can trace their heritage to him, that is they
have either worked directly with Sydney, or worked with one of his
intellectual offspring.
 I hope this is useful.

   Thank you for your consideration,

   Caroline Julien
   dplant at po-box.mcgill.ca

   tel. 514 272 7064
   fax. 514 272 7223

   Adress: =

   7717 Henri-Julien
   Montreal, Que
   H2R 2B6

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