Blast from the past

Isn’t high throughput science cool?
Wanna find out which host proteins are required for HIV infection? Do a whole genome screen! Try to infect human cells with HIV while using short interfering RNAs to individually knock down every single one of their genes, and see which ones become resistant to infection. Voila, 237 novel proteins / potential drug targets. Easy peasy.
Maybe that bores you, and you’d rather map all the genomic rearrangements that occur in human lung cancer cells. No problem at all, just sequence everything in sight and find all 409 rearrangements, down to the single base pair level. Done! Now let’s go for lunch.
I’m being flippant, of course – these studies require a massive amount of preparation, careful experimental work and especially data analysis, and I have nothing but respect for the researchers who are extracting the maximum benefit from these new technologies. It’s just a totally different ball game to my own days in the lab, where most papers were still of the one-gene-at-a-time variety.
So I was thrilled to spot an old-school paper recently that is closely related to my PhD thesis work. I worked on the v-Jun protein, a copy of a cellular regulatory gene that was picked up and mutated by an avian retrovirus, and which causes sarcoma formation when introduced back into chicken cells. While my lab was interested in comparing the mechanisms of transcriptional and cell growth regulation by the cellular and viral versions of the gene, most papers that were published in our field at the time reported the discovery of a new transcriptional target of v-Jun.
The paper, published by a lab with whom I corresponded during my PhD work, describes the regulation of the TOJ3 gene by v-Jun. The original paper describing the upregulation of TOJ3 transcripts in v-Jun transfected cells came out in 2001, the year I started to write up my thesis. I was therefore familiar with the work, but hadn’t seen any related papers published in the intervening years. I have no idea why this follow-up paper took seven years to come out, but I’m glad it finally got published – reading the introduction and methods sections rendered me all nostalgic. CAT assays! I didn’t think anyone did those any more. (They were renamed CATH assays in my old lab after I did about three million of them in my final year in the lab). And I was delighted to discover that I can still spot a consensus Jun binding site at twenty paces (TGA G/C TCA, since you ask. A palindrome, which I always think is cool).
Anyway. It is now confirmed that TOJ3 is a direct transcriptional target of v-Jun. A nice solid piece of research, and a wonderful blast from the past for me.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.