Dr. Gong is interested in using genetic approaches to study gene regulation and function in the mouse central nervous system. To this end, Dr. Gong has created a novel “two-plasmid” approach for the one-step modification of large-insert genomic clones referred to as bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs). Using this method, Dr. Gong and colleagues have successfully engineered more than 2,000 BACs and generated over 1,000 BAC transgenic mice expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), EGFP-ribosomal L10a fusion protein, Cre recombinase, Cre-ERT2 recombinase, Flpe recombinase, and disease genes. The transgenic animals made by the GENSAT project, which identifies and maps gene expression throughout development in the mouse central nervous system, are available to the scientific community, and anatomical expression maps of the nervous system of these mice are available to the public at www.gensat.org.
To facilitate the use of the BAC approach for functional studies, Dr. Gong has established a two-step, highly efficient system for creating deletion, insertion, and point mutations in the selected BACs. In order to further apply the BAC system for high throughput functional genomic studies, Dr. Gong recently developed a highly efficient system to generate BAC-mediated gene targeting constructs for generating conditional knockout and knockin alleles in embryonic stem cells. She is also interested in studying the mechanisms of motor neuron diseases, especially amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the disease mechanism, to model human disease, and to develop therapeutics.