University of Waikato student researching mouse-ear proteins

16 January 2013

Blaise Forrester-Gauntlett

A novel gene: Masters student Blaise Forrester-Gauntlett is researching the role of vmo-1 found in the mouse auditory.

University of Waikato student Blaise Forrester-Gauntlett has been awarded a New Zealand Health Research Council Māori Health Research Masters Scholarship for her research looking at a novel gene in the mouse auditory system.

The Masters student is working on her thesis under the supervision of Dr Linda Peters, analysing the novel gene vitelline membrane outer layer 1 (or vmo-1) found in the mouse auditory system.

Interest in vmo-1

Vmo-1 is of particular interest because it is believed to be responsible for acting as a membrane that keeps inner ear fluid separate, influencing and maintaining hearing and balance.

“Vmo-1 was discovered to be expressed in the membrane of the mouse inner ear. It’s a specific protein found in the inner ear of most mammals, and at the moment there is no current explanation for what it does.

“The key objective of this research is to investigate the expression of vmo-1 at different developmental time points in the mouse auditory system and to figure out what it is doing, and any potential applications for the protein.”

Blotting methodology

To conduct her research, Blaise will be using blotting methodology to identify the protein and performing immunohistochemistry tests to detect the protein in the mouse ear tissue. The data generated will unravel the role vmo-1 plays in the auditory system.

“If we can figure out what it is doing, what the function is, then we can see what useful applications can come from isolating it.”

The New Zealand Health Research Council scholarship is worth $4500 pro-rata and provides financial support to researchers looking at a range of health issues of importance to New Zealand.

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