J. K. Wickiser Lab

Gene and Metabolite Circuits

Pyramidine metabolic network (KEGG)

Biological Impact of High Explosive Contaminants in Model Organisms and Monitoring Oxidative Stress Biomarkers in Model Organisms

Our group is working to elucidate the genetic and metabolomic circuits perturbed by the exposure of trace amounts of military explosives.  In order to analyze the dynamic relationships between the vast number of biological reactants that may respond to the presence of an environmental contaminant of military interest, powerful techniques must be developed.  The United States Army is committed to understanding the biological impact of high explosive ordinance contamination on military ranges.  The tools for analyzing these complicated and dynamic networks are evolving but are restricted to the known relationships to the measured values of the gene products and metabolites.  New algorithms designed to elucidate heretofore unknown relationships between these measured quantities. We are turning to Network Science techniques to analyze these enormous and complicated data sets.

We are interested in the expression level of specific genes and small molecule metabolites in response to an environmental exposure to trace amounts of explosives.  The data from a typical experiment consists of a list of genes and metabolites and the corresponding relative expression (up- or down-regulated compared to a control).  We are using the bacterium, E coli as a model organism to observe the effect of environmental insults such as RDX and HMX.  Standard gene expression microarray and advanced GCxGC-MS techniques will give us unsurpassed resolution and enable us to document the biological circuits impacted by the contaminant.