1995-2000 Group leader at the Genzentrum of the since Nov. 2000 Professor of Biochemistry at the Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden.
Work in the lab of Prof. Dr. Alexander von Institute of Crystallography, Free University repressor-tet operator interactions in the Genzentrum, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, 1993, awarded by the "Vereinigung für 1982-1987 Student of Biology, FA University 1988-1992 Doctoral thesis: "Molecular mechanisms of the regulation of tetracycline resistance Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Ralf Heinrich Baumeister determinants", major supervisor: Prof. Dr.
1992-1995 Postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of Phone: +49-(89) 5996-458, Fax: +49-(89) 5996-415 gene unc-86 for the specification and dif- Internet: ferentiation of the C.elegans nervous sys- GENE TECHNOLOGY FORUM 2001 TARTU, ESTONIA C.elegans, an Animal Model for the The different genome projects have resulted in an expo- nential increase in sequence information available in the databases. At the same time, the number of functionally characterized genes is only increasing linearly. How can we increase the speed of functional genomics to make full use of the data mining? Model organisms have helped significantly to understand the roles of particular genes in an organism. The classical approaches to address gene function first involves the inactivation of a given gene and the monitoring of the resulting conse- quences. For single factors, this method was success- fully used in the model organisms Drosophila melanogaster and mouse. However, in order to upscale this knock-out methodology and subsequent analysis, these models have a significant disadvantage: the time and effort to perform even single targeted gene manipu- lations is significant, and the complexity of the organism prevents in many cases the detailed analyses of the KO consequences. Here, the nematode C. elegans offers several advantages: 40-60 % of the human disease genes are represented by homologues in C. elegans. In addition, the animals are small enough to be kept in large numbers in a format that allows mass manipula- tions (microtiter plates) and knock-outs of candidate genes can be obtained in a matter of 4-6 weeks. Animal facilities are cheap, and C. elegans is the only multicel- lular organism for which the development of each single cell and the entire connectivity of its nervous system are known. At the same time, the cellular diversity of the C.
elegans nervous system is in the same range as that of a vertebrate brain, although the total number of neurons is only 302. Remarkably, C. elegans neurons use the same neurotransmitters as humans, and the receptor pharmacology is astonishingly similar.
In this seminar, examples of functional conservation of human genes and their C. elegans counterparts/homo- logues will be discussed. In particular, I will focus on genes involved in human neurodegenerative diseases and discuss the contribution C. elegans models can make to understand the function of the relevant human GENE TECHNOLOGY FORUM 2001 TARTU, ESTONIA



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