are yeast labs passe?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by chef, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. chef

    chef Senior Member

    Nov 5, 2001
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    i don't have any experience w/ workin w/ yeast but i always thought they are neat b/c they r relatively simple to manipulate/study, cheap, clean, yet a powerful tool for studying many things. but my friends tell me that yeast labs are so passe and say they'd never work in a yeast lab this day and age when so many other new techniques and models are available. what r your thoughts?
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  3. mrpeters714

    mrpeters714 Member

    Sep 6, 2002
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    Alright, since I'm probably the only person monitoring this board that actually worked in a yeast lab, I feel obligated to respond.

    Working with yeast is great. You can do all sorts of cool genetics that are impossible or at least very difficult in "higher" organisms, including the ability to do sophisticated screens and to knock out whatever gene you want with only a days work. You can do a whole array of experiments in yeast, starting with genetics and proceeding to protein biochemistry and microscopic analysis. Basically, you are only limited experimentally to what you can dream up. Frequently in grad school the question was "what should I do" rather than "what can I do".

    Additionally, yeast have alot fewer genes than mammals, roughly 6200 vs 20,000-40,000 or whatever the current number is, making things alot simpler. However, you'd be surprised how many yeast genes have mammalian homologs. Basically, evolution has stripped out all the nonessential genes, so you know that everything you work with is of critical importance. I worked on the vacuolar transport pathway, the pathway through which proteins move from the late golgi to the vacuole. The proteins which funtion in this pathway are on average about 40% conserved relative to mammalian lysosomal transport protein, if I remember correctly.

    Your friend's claim that yeast labs are passe is (IMHO) incorrect. There are alot of yeast oriented labs out there doing cutting edge research and getting published in big name journals. My lab, for instance, was HHMI funded and published in all of the big cell and molecular biology journals, including Cell, EMBO, and JCB.

    Of course, I have to admit that my days in the yeast world are over now. It was fun while it lasted, but as an MD/PhD i need to get involved in something a bit more clinically oriented.

  4. anot

    anot Junior Member

    Oct 5, 2002
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    You should get smarter friends. The newest challenge in biology is proteomics, and most of this work is being done in yeast.
  5. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
    Moderator Emeritus

    Jun 4, 2001
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    Attending Physician
    For graduate work, the particular model organism used is far less important than the QUESTIONS you are trying to address. Some problems will be more easily tackled using certain organisms.

    A number of the advantages of using yeast have been described by previous posters. Others: haploid genome, easy to grow and store, can select and screen easily, can make conditional mutants, can screen mutants on particular backgrounds to determine gene interactions/pathways. In addition, it is estimated that about 20% of human disease genes are conserved in yeast.

    On searching for labs, I would focus more on particular scientific problems or questions in which you are interested. You can always do rotations in labs that use different organisms to get a better sense of the advantages and disadvantages.

    Good luck. :D
  6. mjs

    mjs Millionaire, Superhero

    Aug 23, 2002
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    yeast have been picked on an awful lot lately, but I'm going to have to agree with anot. Lots of interesting functional genomics and proteomics stuff that I've seen is coming from yeast work.

    In my opinion they're well suited for this stuff because they are still the best understood model organism in eukaryote cell biology.

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