Environmental Factor, July 2009, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Trainees Vanpool with Mentor for ENDO 09
By Eddy Ball
They weren't exactly Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, but members of the NIEHS Molecular Endocrinology Group (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/lst/molecular/staff.cfm) had plenty of fun and bonding on their own road trip to ENDO 09 June 10-13 in Washington. With group head and Principal Investigator John Cidlowski, Ph.D., at the wheel, the five trainees dealt with a tight travel budget this year by taking an NIEHS van to the conference and doubling up in less expensive hotels in Washington.
The annual meeting (https://www.endocrine.org/meetings/endo-annual-meetings) of the Endocrine Society, ENDO, is one of the premier events each year for scientists involved in endocrine research, and each of the trainees had entered a study in the society's Presidential Poster Competition. In addition to Cidlowski, the group included Presidential Award-winner Danielle Duma, Ph.D., Erica Lannan, Ph.D., Rongqin Ren, Ph.D., Javier Revollo, Ph.D., and Lindsay Smith. For all except Duma, the trip was the first time the trainees had attended an ENDO meeting.
ENDO attracts as many as 7,500 scientists and practitioners each year, to hone their skills and share new research. Being honored by the Endocrine Society, as Cidlowski was last year (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2008/july/endo.cfm), can be a high point in an investigator's career and, for trainees, recognition at ENDO can help a CV stand out in the job search. The poster sessions also offer an especially good opportunity for networking and interacting with other scientists - and possible employers - with similar research interests.
Duma was the NIEHS fellow in the group who took home a Presidential Award, and all the trainees described the trip as a success, both professionally and as a way to get to know each other and their mentor better. "I thought it was interesting at the meeting," said Predoctoral Fellow Lindsay Smith, "that people came to see our projects because they had John's name on them as well."
Revollo added that "it was interesting for me to get to know John from a different angle," a feeling that Cidlowski also expressed about his trainees. "It was a great team-building experience," Cidlowski observed. "I learned a lot about each of them that I didn't even know from working with them on a daily basis."
"The drive was easy," Cidlowski noted. "We had two people with GPS [Global Positioning Systems], and they guided us through the city from hotel to hotel. I think it took us only about an hour more than it would have if we'd taken a flight - and by the time you figure in getting a cab to the hotel, it was probably a wash."
Danielle Duma's Award-Winning Abstract
Duma D, Collins JB, Chou JW, Cidlowski JA. Sexual dimorphism of glucocorticoids regulated rat liver gene expression.
Males and females exhibit differences in the incidence of many major diseases including autoimmune diseases, hepatocellular carcinoma, diabetes and osteoporosis, which all have important inflammatory components in their etiology. Glucocorticoids (GCs) are the primary physiological anti-inflammatory hormone in all mammals, and synthetic derivatives of these hormones are widely prescribed as anti-inflammatory agents, irrespective of gender. We wished to determine if differential sensitivity between males and females has a role in the sexual dimorphism of inflammation.
Microarray analyses were performed on livers from adrenalectomized male and female Sprague-Dawley rats untreated and treated with Dexamethasone (Dex) for 6 hours. The comparison between untreated and De- treated males and/or females reveals 6329 genes Dex regulated in males and 8234 genes Dex regulated in females. We applied computational analyses to the biological data set mentioned above using a profile-based method for Extracting microarray gene expression Patterns and Identifying co-expressed Genes (EPIG). Our data identify eight clusters of GC-regulated genes, grouped in four distinct patterns. Pattern 1 shows 3494 probe sets that are commonly regulated by GC in males and females. Pattern 2 shows 786 probe sets that are preferentially regulated by GC in females. Pattern 3 shows 1130 probe sets where the magnitude of response is higher in males. Interestingly, Pattern 4 identified an unexpected profile of gene expression: 199 probe sets GC responsive in both sexes but regulated in opposite directions. In addition, pathways analysis was applied to the data set identifying sex-specific glucocorticoid regulated gene expression in several canonical pathways that have been implicated in human disease, in which disease susceptibility is sex-biased. For example, a comparison of the number of genes involved in inflammatory disorders between sexes revealed 84 additional GC-responsive genes in the male rat.
Taken together, our data suggest that GCs through sexually-dimorphic regulation of gene expression modulate gender-specific homeostatic functions in male and female liver and raises the possibility that the anti-inflammatory effect of GCs maybe more dramatic in males than females and may explain why females have a higher risk of develop auto-immune diseases than do males.