The Independent Research in Science course assigns students to specialists in various domains to assist them with their research. This semester, some of the students will share their progress, findings and overall thoughts regarding their projects in this bi-weekly column. The students will have a chance to display their final analyses in the Science Symposium on April 28th, 2016.
Effects of Apolipoprotein E on Cardiac Mitochondrial Respiration in Mice
with Maria Gueorguieva
This semester, I am working at Concordia’s Life Sciences Complex with Dr. Andreas Bergdahl to investigate the effects of the presence and absence of the apolipoprotein E-4 (ApoeE-4) on cardiac mitochondrial respiration. Does it sound exciting? Tell me it does! But you may be wondering what on earth are apolipoproteins, and it is a fair question. Simply put, these are special amphipathic molecules used by our body to transport, among other things, dietary lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides (TAGs) into the lymph system and into the blood. This is important because otherwise, TAGs would float around and get oxidized, which is one of the reasons plaque forms around our arteries and leads to conditions like atherosclerosis. It is expected that atherosclerosis will be the leading cause of death worldwide by 2020, so understanding how these molecules impact the respiration of heart mitochondria (which mostly rely on lipids for energy!) could lead to a new understanding of this disease. In our experiment, we will be using two strains of mice. Some are ApoE knockouts, meaning that the ApoE gene has been removed and these molecules are no longer present in them. The others are ApoE-4, which have the human gene of ApoE introduced into them. We will extract a piece of heart tissue from each mouse and compare the respiration rate in the 5 complexes of mitochondria for both tissues simultaneously, using an instrument called anoxygraph. Hopefully, we will see a difference in the respiration rates that could lead to interesting interpretations!