IMGGI work program for 2020

Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia
451-03-68 / 2020-14 / 200042

The Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering is engaged in research in the fields of molecular biomedicine and molecular biotechnology. The research is aimed at monitoring of global trends in relevant areas of scientific research and to the implementation of the most advanced techniques of molecular biology and molecular genetics in order to analyze the structure, function and regulation of gene/protein expression and genome organization. Investigations are taking place using various model systems, prokaryotic (actinomycetes, lactic acid bacteria, clinically relevant pathogens, isolates fromdifferent ecological niches, laboratory generated strains of bacteria) and eukaryotic (materials of human origin, materials of animal origin, cell lines of human and animal origin, zebra fish, C. elegans, fungi and plants). The institute has established a biobank of samples for rare diseases in Serbia and has unique collections of microorganisms.                                                                                                                   

Research in the field of human molecular genetics includes the study of the molecular basis of rare diseases (inflammatory bowel diseases, hematological malignancies, metabolic and monogenic diseases, rare pulmonary, rheumatological, vascular and otological diseases, rare malignancies and rare infectious diseases), complex diseases (cardiovascular and respiratory) and malignancies (colorectal cancer, lung cancer, osteosarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma). Research involves the study of genetic and epigenetic changes in cellular signaling pathways and molecules of interest. The processes of hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, apoptosis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, migration and invasion, as well as the response to stress and therapeutics are studied. The role of SOX genes in nerve tissue homeostasis, aging process, stress response and cell malignant potential is especially investigated. The antitumor potential and mechanisms of action of selected natural and synthetic compounds, plant and fungal extracts and carbon nanomaterials are investigated. Research is conducted in order to identify molecular genetic markers, develop biomarkers important for the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, develop new therapeutic strategies, diagnostic tests and antitumor drugs. The results of research in the field of human molecular genetics have application in personalized medicine, regenerative medicine and the pharmaceutical industry.

Research in the field of molecular microbiology, biotechnology and ecology of microorganisms is largely based on the unique collections of microorganisms that IMGGE possesses. Searching for a collection of bacteria for producers of new antimicrobial and antiviral agents includes isolation, characterization, gene cloning, expression and molecular mechanisms of action of molecules of interest (new bacteriocins, peptides, lipopeptides, quorum sensing system silencers, small molecules). New types of resistance are being studied, as well as new types of control of multidrug-resistant bacteria (bacteriophages active on plant, animal and human pathogens). Studies of communities of microorganisms from different ecological niches include the interaction of hosts and pathogens, small molecules and enzymes that modulate microbiological communication, virulence, and the formation of bacterial and mixed biofilms. Part of the research is focused on studying the role of the microbiota in the development and prognosis of various autoimmune and neurodevelopmental diseases. In the field of molecular biotechnology, sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions for the synthesis of molecules and biomaterials applicable in biomedicine and environmental protection, biocatalysts based on microbiological enzymes, processes of conversion of waste material and biomass into higher value materials (chemicals, drugs and biopolymers- biocompatible and biodegradable plastics) and new generation biofuels are being developed. The results of research in the field of molecular microbiology, biotechnology and ecology of microorganisms have application in bioremediation, agriculture, pharmacy and medicine.

Research in the field of plant molecular biology includes plant molecular ecology, the mechanisms of plant responses to abiotic stress, the mechanisms involved in maintaining genome stability, and the interaction between plants and beneficial bacteria. Research on the mechanisms of plant response to various factors of abiotic stress includes detailed characterization of newly identified genes that are part of the stress response at the transcriptional and posttranscriptional level, generation of mutants for plant genes using CRISPR/Cas9 and other genetic engineering technologies and bioinformatics analysis of metabolic networks. Research in the field of population genetics, phylogeography and plant phylogeny is one of the research priorities in order to improve cultivated and protect endangered, endemic plant species. Investigations of the mechanisms of maintaining genome stability are focused on the isolation of new cellular factors involved in the modulation and resolution of recombination intermediates during DNA repair. The analysis also includes mutants in endosome formation to examine whether the endocytosis process is necessary to recycle oxidatively damaged molecules and to preserve genome integrity. The results of research in the field of plant molecular biology have application in the improvement of agriculture and environmental protection.

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