Functional Genomic Approaches Using the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model System
Junho Lee*, Seunghee Nam, Soon Baek Hwang, Mingi Hong, Jae Young Kwon, Kyu Sang Joeng, Seol Hee Im, Jiwon Shim and Moon Cheol Park
National Research Laboratory, Department of Biology, Yonsei University, 134 Shinchon, Seoul 120-749, Korea
Since the completion of the genome project of the nematode C. elegans in 1998, functional genomic approaches have been applied to elucidate the gene and protein networks in this model organism. The recent completion of the whole genome of C. briggsae, a close sister species of C. elegans, now makes it possible to employ the comparative genomic approaches for identifying regulatory mechanisms that are conserved in these species and to make more precise annotation of the predicted genes. RNA interference (RNAi) screenings in C. elegans have been performed to screen the whole genome for the genes whose mutations give rise to specific phenotypes of interest. RNAi screens can also be used to identify genes that act genetically together with a gene of interest. Microarray experiments have been very useful in identifying genes that exhibit co-regulated expression profiles in given genetic or environmental conditions. Proteomic approaches also can be applied to the nematode, just as in other species whose genomes are known. With all these functional genomic tools, genetics will still remain an important tool for gene function studies in the post genome era. New breakthroughs in C. elegans biology, such as establishing a feasible gene knockout method, immortalized cell lines, or identifying viruses that can be used as vectors for introducing exogenous gene constructs into the worms, will augment the usage of this small organism for genome-wide biology.
C. elegans, C. briggsae, Functional genomics, Micorarray, Proteomics, RNAi screening, Comparative genomics