Studies performed in the sponsor lab revealed that growth of python tissue after feeding may be attributed to components of the serum. In Fall 2010, we therefore focused The Python Project research on examining the effects of serum obtained from pythons on different post-prandial days on gene expression in mammalian (rat) liver cells. The data revealed an upregulation of gene involved in promoting hepatocyte proliferation, which corroborated data in the Leinwand Lab demonstrating that post-prandial serum promotes cardiac hypertrophy in mammalian cells (Riquelme, et al., 2011). Three of the genes were not expressed in cultured liver cells, however, gene expression was measured for the remaining 13 genes. The students concluded that growth was promoted in cultured hepatoma cells treated with 3 DPF serum, suggesting that changes in proliferation observed in the Burmese python at 1DPF may be promoted by different factors than those in 3 DPF serum.
In Fall 2011, students generated gene expression data for the same set of 16 genes hypothesized to be involved in liver hyperplasia. The composite data obtained from 3-5 quantitative PCR experiments per student revealed a significant increase in expression of three markers of proliferation, two pro-proliferative genes, and two anti-proliferative genes at 1 day post-fed (DPF), when rapid growth of organs is observed, compared to fasting. Expression of two pro-proliferative genes at this time point was significantly decreased while expression of the remaining genes was unchanged. At 3 DPF, when organ growth slows, the expression of only one gene was significantly changed; the pro-proliferative gene (c-Myc) was decreased. At 10 DPF, there were no statistically significant differences in expression levels when compared to fasting, as expected based on the relative lack of proliferation of tissue at this time point.
Fall 2010 Poster Session:
Fall 2011 Poster Session: