“It was exciting to design and learn more about CRISPR/Cas9 experiments, especially because there is currently much discussion outside research settings about the scientific and ethical aspects of using this technology.” —Manik Reddy
By Manik Reddy ’21
I spent the summer at Macalester working in Professor Mary Montgomery’s lab, which investigates the regulation of mRNA molecules in early embryo development. These mRNAs must be carefully regulated in order for the appropriate proteins to be produced in the necessary quantities, times, and locations within the early embryo. Improper regulation may lead to developmental defects and even embryonic death.
Using the microscopic worm Caenorhabditis elegans, an organism often used for studying animal development, we studied the regulation of mRNA encoded by the Mex-3 gene. First, we identified potentially relevant sequences of the Mex-3 gene, then disrupted those sequences with a gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9. We next looked for any impact on the embryos, to determine whether those gene sequences were actually involved in mRNA regulation.
My daily schedule varied significantly. Some days were spent examining gene sequences and planning experiments, while other days were used to optimize conditions for our experiments and maintain worm stocks. We often identified worms with the edited Mex-3 genes using techniques like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis. Towards the end of my time in the lab, I also got to practice microinjections, which are needed to introduce gene-editing components into the worms.
Working in the lab helped me gain a practical understanding of these techniques and appreciate how they could all be integrated into a single investigation. It was also exciting to design and learn more about CRISPR/Cas9 experiments, especially because there is currently much discussion outside research settings about the scientific and ethical aspects of using this technology.
Research at Macalester is highly collaborative: labs often share equipment and supplies, and students help each other with lab work and projects. I enjoyed learning from and getting to know other students in the lab, as well as meeting other summer research students during our weekly barbecues.
January 7 2019Back to top