Over the course of this summer, I invested a full month of research into attempting to verify the identity of the reporter plasmid – and I failed to do so. In fact, I showed rather conclusively that the plasmid was not, in fact, the backbone that we had been led to believe it was. Interestingly, we also learned several other things about the plasmid, including that it does confer Kanamycin resistance upon E. coli, that it contains at least one cut site for a restriction enzyme that was anticipated in the original plasmid, and that it has a length probably several times longer than what was anticipated.
As a quick reminder, my project is working to create a tool that can eventually be used to correlate transcription and translation within a cell (whether the number of mRNA transcripts correlate directly to the eventual concentration of protein output). I intended to use a reporter plasmid to track the concentration of protein, while thinking about other tools to tackle the other side of the problem – identifying the concentration/number of transcripts.
Despite originally planning to work with X. laevis embryos this summer, my research took a new turn when the summer actually started. Now I am working towards a completely different goal: instead of looking at embryonic development and life, I’m looking at phages, which are viruses that can kill bacteria. Specifically, our lab is interested in the regulatory regions of these phages’ genomes, and understanding how that regulation can be strong or weak relative to its eventual output as proteins.