The Farber lab uses System Genetics in the mouse to identify novel genes and gene networks involved in bone development with an emphasis on factors affecting the function of bone-forming osteoblasts. Here is a list of current projects:
1) Dissecting the genetic basis of complex bone phenotypes using systems genetics in the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel (HMDP).
The HMDP is a novel high-resolution mouse mapping population that is ideal for systems genetics studies (Bennett et al. Genome Research. 2010 and Farber CR et al. PLoS Genetics. 2011). We are using systems genetics approaches in the HMDP to identify genes influencing complex skeletal traits such as bone density, morphology and microarchitecture.
2) Elucidating the function of novel genes affecting skeletal traits identified in project #1.
We are using RNAi in primary calvarial osteoblasts and transgenic and conditional knockout mice to study the role of genes identified in project #1. Our efforts are primarily focused on understanding the function of Bicadual C1 homolog (Bicc1) in the regulation of osteoblast differentiation and bone mass (Farber CR et al. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2009).
3) Elucidating transcriptional networks that play critical roles in the function of osteoblasts.
We are appling Weighted Gene Co-expression Network Analysis to bone microarray data generated in the HMDP in order to reconstruct correlational networks. The objective of this work is to use network information to pinpoint key genes and gene-gene interactions that are critical for osteoblast function.