Medical Student Research Fellowship for Summer 2010
Mentor: Lisa Halvorson, MD
Department: Dept. of OB/GYN
Room number: F2.302
Mail Code: 9032
Phone number: 214-648-2309
Project title: Gonadotropin gene regulation
Human subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable):
Animal subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable): 0980-07-03-1
Project Type: Basic Research
Brief Description of Project: The overall objective of our laboratory is to understand neuroendocrine control of reproduction using classical molecular biology approaches, with a focus on the pituitary gonadotrope cells. A long-standing project focuses on the transcription factors and associated DNA-regulatory elements which mediate basal and GnRH-induced expression of the luteinizing hormone -subunit gene. We are currently studying the role of the stimulatory transcription factors liver receptor homologue-1 (LRH 1) and GATA, as well as the inhibitor COUP TF, on gonadotropin gene expression.
Recent data have suggested that, in addition to LH and FSH, gonadotropes secrete a peptide hormone known as PACAP (pituitary adenylate-cyclase activating peptide). As suggested by its name, PACAP stimulates the cAMP/protein kinase A system, thereby increasing expression of an array of pituitary genes. Thus, PACAP may act as an autocrine factor in gonadotropes (ie., PACAP is both produced by and acts on gonadotrope cells). We have begun to identify and characterize factors which regulate expression of the PACAP gene, focusing on hormones with known importance to reproduction such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and gonadal steroids.
Each student will choose a focused part of a project which will allow them to master a number of techniques and obtain a clear result. Techniques used in the laboratory include animal models (not required) and classical molecular biology approaches (eg., cell culture, transient transfection of DNA constructs, gel shift analysis, Western blot, siRNA, ChIP, and DNA mutagenesis).
Previous Research Activities or Publications with Medical Students:
GnRH stimulates expression of PACAP in the pituitary gonadotropes via both the PKA and PKC signaling systems. Grafer CM, Thomas R, Lambrakos L, Montoya I, White S, Halvorson LM, Mol Endocrinol, 23:1022-1032, 2009.
Litsa Lambrakos - Abstract: Society for Gynecologic Investigation, 2006. Awarded MD with Distinction in Research (Spring, 2007).
Ignacio Montoya - Abstracts: Annual Medical Student Research Forum, 2003; Society for Gynecologic Investigation, 2004; Society for Gynecologic Investigation, 2005.