Molecular and Bioinformatic support for the European Xenopus Resource Centre

Project Details


The understanding of the basic processes of life and how these can go wrong, for example in disease or during
development, is almost completely dependent on studies using "model" animals that are particularly well understood and
experimentally tractable. Arguably the most versatile of these model animals are the embryos of Xenopus frogs. In order to
make the most effective and efficient use of these models, the genetically altered animals themselves and the special
molecular tools (generally DNA and antibodies) that are used to work with them are shared within the research community.
To do this, resource centres exist for each organism. The centre for Xenopus is the European Xenopus Resource Centre
(EXRC), and this application is to support the unique collection of molecular tools held there. Staff at the centre acquire the
molecular tools from laboratories around the world, grow more of them them and check that they work as expected. The
details of the tools are then entered on the database for this model organism, which is called Xenbase. It has sophisticated
searching and linking functions so that researchers can find the tools easily. When they are requested, the tools are sent
from the EXRC to the user who pays for the cost of their production.

Our aim, using the funding requested here, is first to continue providing the current molecular tools, the curation of which
was originally supported by the BBSRC. These tools allow researchers to determine where in embryos genes are switched
on, to make transgenic frogs and to test the function of genes. We are also requesting funding to develop two new tools for
the community. Antibodies are needed by biologists to "see" proteins in cells and embryos; for some years now the
Xenopus community has been aware of a lack of antibodies for Xenopus research. The School where the EXRC is situated
has been raising antibodies successfully since the mid-1980s and does so at a scale that allows it to supply commercially;
we propose to make this antibody raising pipeline available to Xenopus labs and support them with preliminary
characterisation of the antiserum produced. The other new tool is the physical frog genome (all of the frog DNA) in very
large fragments called BACS. We will pick BACS that span the whole genome and make these available to the community.
BACS let researchers improve the genome sequence of frogs, rescue mutations and identify the regions of DNA that
control specific genes. Since working with BACS is a highly specialised skill, we have recruited an expert BAC scientist to
develop this project part time.

This set of molecular tools, when added to the transgenic, mutant and wild-type lines held at the EXRC and the US
National Xenopus Resource (NXR), together with the training programmes provided at the NXR, give Xenopus scientists
an excellent resource infrastructure that enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of their research programmes.
Effective start/end date1/09/1331/08/18


  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council: £576,840.00


  • Animal Science
  • Genetics & development
  • Omic sciences & technologies
  • Animal developmental biology
  • Animal organisms
  • Functional genomics


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.