Wrapping up in Lab
This past term, I’ve been working in the Mazmanian Lab, which studies the relationship between the brain and the bacteria in the gut. Previously, members of the lab have discovered links between the intestinal microbiota and disorders such as Parkinson’s and Autism. Before coming to Caltech, this was a topic I had never heard about, so it was really exciting to be able to work on such novel research.
My mentor Wei-Li taught me brain immunohistochemistry, which means selectively imaging for certain proteins in the brain by using antibodies.After a few weeks of observing, training, and helping out here and there, I got my own project! The goal of the project was to determine whether vasopressin expression levels are different in the brains of germ-free (GF) and normal mice. Germ-free mice are mice that grow up completely isolated from the outside world in sterile chambers. It’s been shown that GF mice tend to present with more autistic behaviors, are more anxious in social situations, and also are more prone to gastrointestinal diseases. Vasopressin and oxytocin are two chemicals closely related to social behavior, so we wanted to see if the proteins were differentially expressed in the two groups of mice.
Here’s an example of what a section looks like after staining and imaging: