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Waksman Challenge

Our group accepted the Waksman Challenge and embarked on an educational journey of independent research. Our goals in the beginning were to discover certain genes in the cDNA library that would cause the worms to become doubly defective in both egg laying and embryonic development. If this is the case, then the bacteria in the positive RNAi tube would be sent to Rutgers for analysis and sequencing.

Upon completing 639 RNAi plates, our class had four positive genes and one ambiguous genes. However, of our four positive genes, some (maybe all) could be housekeeping genes common to both humans and Caenorhabditis Elegans. The silencing of housekeeping genes couldve disrupted embryonic development by disabling the cells normal maintenance patterns.

We started the challenge eager to find developmental genes but were well aware that we couldve walked away empty handed. All in all, we did in fact walk away with some results. In the future, we hope to determine exactly what these four genes do in humans. Possibly we could conduct tests to see what proteins the genes make and then infer what influence these proteins have on the body. It will take years of testing and hard work before a definitive developmental gene is found, but this is a start.

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