Molecular Biology Research Lab

Supervisor: Desire Jackson     SB 306

Dr. Jackson’s research focus is on the effects of heavy metal exposure on fetuses. The hypothesis behind this interest is: prenatal exposure to arsenic alters gene expression during development . In the laboratory, graduate students have examined the effect of arsenic at low levels on gene expression in rat pups during gestation and within two weeks of birth to determine the effects of gene expression. This work is important because the effects of arsenic exposure on gene expression in these developmental stages have not been well studied. The thought behind these studies is that prenatal exposure to Arsenic alters gene expression during development which may eventually lead to various tumor types in the adult organism. The prediction is that an alteration in gene expression will be seen when a comparison is made between the control and the arsenic -treated groups. Alteration of expression of genes associated with cell proliferation and DNA damage could be in the study group and could be linked to the potential for tumor formations in the adult.

Graduate students in her lab have used RNA isolation, RT-PCR and Quantitative Real Time PCR to study the effects of Arsenic exposure on the expression of specific genes associated with cell cycle regulation and oxidative stress. Students have studied the effects of pre- and peri-natal exposure to Arsenic on gene expression in fetal rat liver, in fetal rat kidney, and in fetal rat lung. Her students have also studies the effects of pre-natal exposure to Arsenic on gene expression in fetal rat kidney and in fetal rat brain.