I opted for the subject Cell and gene biotechnology which aims to form academic engineers with theoretical and practical knowledge in molecular aspects of plants, animals and micro-organisms. A solid biological, biochemical and molecular-genetic knowledge of living organisms is the basis of this programme, together with technological and engineering courses. A strong mathematical basis is also needed for a quantitative description and analysis of molecular-genetic data. The emphasis is on the industrial applications of genetic modification, exploitation of the living cell and molecular diagnostics. Applications are situated in diverse sectors such as agriculture, biomedical, biochemical and food industries and environmental technology.
The program consists of the study of (1) modelling and computer simulations of biological systems, (2) structure and function of cells, (3) DNA and proteins, (4) molecular and other analysis techniques, (5) mathematical methods for analysis of molecular-genetic data, (6) genetics and applications, (7) the elaboration on the knowledge of plants, animals, micro-organisms and their biotechnological applications and (8) notions of patent issues and ethical aspects of biotechnology.
A comprehensive lab-based research project was performed during the last year of this 5 year programme. During this research project I studied the tobacco plant lectin. I engineered multiple variants of the native lectin structure which was thought to contain a putative nuclear localisation signal. These modified lectin forms were cloned into an expression vectors, merging them with the green fluorescent protein(GFP) and transiently introduced into liquid tobacco BY-2 cell cultures. The presence and functionality of the nuclear localisation signal, and the functionality of multiple other introduced localisation signals was examined by studying the location of the GFP-lectin fusion protein by confocal microscopy.
Confocal images detecting GFP expression in tobacco BY-2 cells (a and c) and an onion cell (b) transformed with a native letin-GFP construct (a and b) and a construct where the nuclear localisation signal has been disabled (c). Details of these images and the constructs are printed in a thesis produced at the end of this project.
Research project supervisor: Prof. Dr. E. Van Damme
Lab supervision: Ir. N. Lannoo
Link to abstract (English)
Link to thesis Currently only available in Dutch, PDF