About the size of a microwave oven, the Ion Proton System is one of a new generation of instruments that can quickly sequence a large number of DNA bases. For example, the number of DNA bases in the human genome is approximately 3 billion.
The device can determine the sequence of these DNA bases in about a day at a cost of about
Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is a molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and many viruses. DNA sequencing is the process for determining the precise order of nucleotides, or organic molecules, within a DNA molecule. This information is useful in several fields of biology, such as determining how organisms are related and how they evolved and determining how certain genes are associated with diseases and identifying potential drug targets in diseases.
Stellwag said the machine "provides us with the necessary infrastructure to conduct very detailed genetic analysis that cannot be performed using traditional automated DNA sequencers. This capability will help us understand the complex genetic changes that are involved in species evolution, organism function, embryonic development and in genetic and infectious disease."
According to Stellwag, the equipment's flexible architecture is adaptable to many applications, such as sequencing a large number of organisms simultaneously, preparing and comparing sequences from different species and sequencing the DNA of species that have never been sequenced before.
Researchers on ECU's main and health sciences campuses "are sequencing DNA on a daily basis," said Stellwag. "They are especially interested in using the instrument to study gene expression in diverse organisms and cell types."
The new sequencer will cut the cost of each experiment in half, eliminate the paperwork needed to hire a vendor and reduce the time each experiment takes from four months to four-to-six weeks, Keiper said.
Other primary users include the following:
"My own research is focused on understanding the gene expression changes that occur during embryonic development," said Stellwag. "We use high-throughput DNA sequencing to analyze the changes in gene expression that occur during the development of tissue and organs from the fertilized egg through the early stages of embryogenesis. These changes in gene expression provide important information about which genes are important for the specification of each of the developing tissues and organs. They also provide clues concerning developmental defects that arise when these genes are expressed abnormally."
Most recently, Stellwag's research has focused on the effects of crude oil exposure on embryonic development. This research seeks to determine whether there are specific developmental defects that arise when embryos are exposed to crude oil during early stages of development.
"The ion proton sequencer is a revolutionary step forward for ECU's genomics research community," said Stellwag.
The machine is expected to arrive on campus within a month. Once at ECU, it will be housed in the Genomics Core Facility in the
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center is a publicly funded organization that serves the community by providing information, grants, loans and other resources to facilitate the development of biotechnology in
TNS 30TagarumaMar-140531-4753111 30TagarumaMar
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