BS in Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences Department
Botrylloides violaceus is a colonial ascidian with the ability to undergo sexual and asexual reproduction as well as regeneration. The canonical pathway starts with the extracellular protein Wnt and ends with β-catenin, a transcription factor, which also functions in cell adhesion. The Wnt signaling pathway is involved in embryogenesis and regeneration in a variety of other species. In our studies we attempt to isolate and sequence both a Wnt gene and from Botrylloides via degenerate primer design and PCR. Using bioinformatic methods we aligned sequences from other organisms, as the Botrylloides genome has not yet been sequenced. Using mouse, Ciona, sea urchin, and anemone DNA we were able to design primers using areas of conservation in both genes. We have been optimizing DNA and RNA isolation procedures from Botrylloides and are now identifying optimal annealing temperatures for our primers. Obtaining sequence data from fragments of these genes will allow us to compare them to sequences from other species and provide us with information about evolutionary conservation.