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Student Projects

This section highlights abstracts of student projects that SIBiol and/or its members have been involved with in various ways (e.g., project supervision, financial support, etc.). This is in line with the Institute’s objectives of promoting and raising awareness of biology, and biology education and training.

Projects involving SIBiol Members

Featured here are abstracts of prize-winning projects from programmes that SIBiol members have been involved with:


From the SRP:
(Silver medal winner at the Singapore Science and Engineering Fair 2006)

Transient expression of mutant and wild type forms of α-synuclein in two different cell lines affects cell viability

Sng Weizhong Jonathan1, Koh Kai Sheng Kevin1, Zhou Zhidong2, Lim Tit Meng2
1 SRP Student, Raffles Junior College
2 Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

AbstractThe pre-synaptic protein, α-synuclein, has been associated with the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease, as well as it being a major feature found in Parkinson’s disease. The present study indicates that α-synuclein, but not its mutants can protect CNS dopaminergic cells from the parkinsonism-inducing drug 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP +), whereas MPP + has no effect on non-dopaminergic neural blastoma cells. The study also indicates that the mutants have a greater neurotoxic effect on cells without MPP + challenge to a much larger extent then wild type (WT) α-synuclein.


From the NRP:
(Gold medal winner at the NRP 2005 Symposium)

Biomedical Potentials of Marine Organisms from Singapore

Ong Yan Zhi 1 , Alfred Seng 1 , Peter Lee Peng Foo 2 , Tan Lik Tong 2
1 Hwa Chong Institution (College Section)
2 National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University

Abstract – Scientists all over the world have been looking into marine organisms for naturally-occurring secondary metabolites that could be developed into important therapeutic agents. Singapore’s offshore islands boast a rich underwater biodiversity, so there is good rationale in screening local marine organisms for biologically active compounds. Thirteen marine organisms, mainly sponges, were collected from two places in Singapore, St John's Island and Raffles Marina. Organic extracts prepared from these organisms were screened on two cancer cell lines, human leukemic cells(MOLT-4) and human breast carcinoma cells (MCF-7). The cytotoxicity of each extract was assessed using the MTT assay. One marine organism, RM5, from Raffles Marina exhibited high levels of cytotoxicity towards both cancer cell lines, which suggests the presence of bioactive compounds that have a general killing effect on both kinds of cancer cells. Another marine organism, RM4, also from Raffles Marina, appeared to be much more active on MOLT-4 cells than on MCF-7 cells, indicating the presence of bioactive compounds that may exhibit some specificity, targeting mainly MOLT-4 cells. In general, extracts from all the marine organisms collected showed significant levels of cytotoxicity towards cancer cells, a good indication that local marine organisms possess many useful bioactive compounds waiting to be discovered. During the course of screening the extracts for cytotoxicity, problems met are the difficulty in collecting a large and continuous supply of sponges for screening and the detrimental effects of such collection. To solve this problem, DNA has been successfully extracted from sponges and their symbiotic bacteria. We can then use this extracted DNA for other purposes such as amplification of gene of interest.


From the Biological Science Graduate Congress:
(First prize oral presentation winner under Cell and Molecular Biology theme)

Gene structures of two functionally diverse prothrombin activators, trocarin D and coagulation factor X, in Tropidechis carinatus snake

Md Abu Reza1, Sanjay Swarup1, R. Manjunatha Kini1,2
1 Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
2 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Abstract – Recently we have shown that Australian rough scaled snake, Tropidechis carinatus possesses two parallel prothrombin activator systems. Trocarin D, a venom prothrombin activator plays an offensive role as toxin, whereas factor X (FX) plays role in hemostatic function. These two proteins are structurally similar and have identical domain architecture. But, their functional difference mandates a highly tissue-specific expression; trocarin D is expressed ~1150 times higher in the venom gland compared to FX expression in liver. Moreover, the expression of FX is constitutive, whereas that of trocarin D is inducible. Therefore, it is interesting to study the gene structure and regulation of expression of these two closely related proteins with divergent functional roles in snake. Here we present the complete gene structure of trocarin D and FX from T. carinatus. Both of the genes have 8 exons and all the exon-intron boundaries are almost at the same position. Introns of these two genes show high identity (>85%), indicating a recent gene duplication event. Interestingly, the promoter of trocarin D has a big insertion of 264 bp (-29 to -293). This region of trocarin D promoter may be responsible for high level of tissue-specific expression.


Other Student Projects


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