Influence of human gut derived bacterial metabolites on neural gene expression

Advisor:
Terry Van Raay (MCB)

The gut-brain axis is becoming increasingly important in our understanding of numerous diseases, conditions and disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Indeed, understanding the contribution of bacterial-derived metabolites to gene expression in the human brain has become an important area of research. To this end, the Van Raay lab is using the zebrafish to model the influence of human gut derived bacterial metabolites on neural gene expression. In essence, we make the zebrafish embryo germ free and then add back bacterially derived gut metabolites from either zebrafish, fecal samples derived from children with ASD or their neurotypical counterpart. We then perform RNA-seq analysis on the zebrafish brains to see if there is a difference in gene expression between conditions. We are currently seeking BINF project students to assist us in our analysis.

Possible projects include:

  1. Differential Gene Expression analysis
  2. Analysis of alternative RNA splicing, a recently identified phenomenon in ASD patients
  3. 16S RNA seq analysis of the different fecal samples
  4. Developing a software analysis pipeline for future RNA-seq projects.