As Arslan-Ergul group, our research interest can be summarized in one word as aging. We investigate aging at the cellular level, and observe the outcome at disease and behavior level. At the cellular level, we work on cells, – cancer cell lines, primer cells, and stem cells, zebrafish brain, and human derived stem cells. At the behavior level, we test zebrafish for learning and memory. At the disease level, we are working on patient materials from Hacettepe Hospitals.  We are jointly utilizing laboratories at Hacettepe Stem Cell Center, Hacettepe Oncology Hospital, Bilkent National Nanotechnology Research Center, Bilkent University Brain Research Center, and Zebrafish Facilities.

Zebrafish Brain Stem Cells

In the last three years, we have been culturing brain stem cells from young and old zebrafish, and subject them to RNA sequencing, BrdU labeling methods. Our aim is to compare the stem cells obtained from old brain to those from young brain, reveal the gene expression differences, and understand the function of stem cells in aging process. In young stem cells, we activate the genes that are found to be significantly changed in RNA sequencing and perform intracranial transplantation to the old zebrafish brain. Then we investigate the behavior of these cells in neurogenesis processes.

Zebrafish Telomere Lengths

In another project, we compared old (25-months old) and young (8-months old) zebrafish and found hypomethylation regions in old zebrafish brains, when compared to young ones. We used qPCR to measure telomere lengths and hTERT promoter methylation levels. For this purpose, we did bisulfate treatment, and amplified hTERT promoter region. In the samples that had short telomere lengths, we found DNA hypomethylation. We think that these regions are associated with telomere shortening. We are currently testing this hypothesis in brain cancer cell lines.

Pearl Mullet Transcriptome Project

Pearl mullet (Chalcalburnus tarichi) is an endemic fish, living in Lake Van. It spends most of its life in the high soda (pH=9.8) and saline waters of Lake Van, but migrates to freshwater streams flowing into the lake for spawning. This exceptional adaptation is equaled by only two other species in the world. Our project is an extension of the Pearl Mullet Genome project and aims to identify the transcriptome of this species.