This proposal seeks continued funding for the Tetrahymena Stock Center in order to maintain its current operations, expand its capabilities and ensure its sustainability as a resource for the community at-large. A key model for eukaryotic cell and molecular biology, Tetrahymena thermophila has been instrumental to our understanding of a wide range of biological phenomena with direct relevance to human health and disease including cancer, infertility, aging, respiratory and neuroendocrine dysfunction. Tetrahymena has also shown great promise as a platform for the production of recombinant proteins, including vaccine antigens and difficult- to-express human ion channels, and serves as a useful teaching tool in K12 and undergraduate classrooms. Specifically, our aims for the Resource are to 1) continue to act as a strain repository accepting new strains and making live cultures of T. thermophila available to interested users at reasonable cost; 2) complete the annotation of archival strains currently housed at the Center and acquire next-generation cloning vectors for micro- and macronuclear genome-editing; 3) offer expanded services and develop innovative marketing approaches to increase revenues. Additionally, to ensure insure long-term stability of the resource we plan to 4) relocate the repository from Cornell University to Washington University in St. Louis; 5) migrate all data from the legacy Tetrahymena Genome Database (TGD) schema to CHADO and transfer its web-hosting functions from Bradley University to the NSF-funded National Center for Genome Analysis Support (NCGAS) at Indiana University; and, 6) redesign the TGD website to display relevant data via the Tripal framework. Our additional Research aims are to: 7) develop genetic strains lacking a functional ribosomal DNA locus to enable selection-free creation of new cell lines; and, 8) develop CRISPR-mediated genome editing tools to enhance the overall utility of the Tetrahymena platform.

Public Health Relevance

This project will support the use of Tetrahymena thermophila as a tool for basic and applied research. This organism has played a key role in our understanding of important biological processes including those underlying cancer, aging, fertility, respiratory and neuroendocrine function, and has practical applications as a manufacturing platform for vaccines and therapeutics proteins for the treatment of human disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Office of The Director, National Institutes of Health (OD)
Animal (Mammalian and Nonmammalian) Model, and Animal and Biological Material Resource Grants (P40)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Zou, Sige
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Cornell University
Schools of Veterinary Medicine
United States
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Pinello, Jennifer Fricke; Lai, Alex L; Millet, Jean K et al. (2017) Structure-Function Studies Link Class II Viral Fusogens with the Ancestral Gamete Fusion Protein HAP2. Curr Biol 27:651-660
Cole, Eric S; Cassidy-Hanley, Donna; Fricke Pinello, Jennifer et al. (2014) Function of the male-gamete-specific fusion protein HAP2 in a seven-sexed ciliate. Curr Biol 24:2168-2173