Dr. Arnone’s Active Lab Publishes Another Paper on Aging and Gene Regulation


Courtesy of Reem Eldabagh.

Christie Dix, News Editor

Dr. James Arnone has worked with saccharomyces cerevisiae, or brewer’s yeast, as it is known to many. However, what he is doing is far from making the next best craft beer. Dr. Arnone, his students and alumni lab participants are studying genetic regulation and aging. Yeast is a eukaryote, which means they are much more complex than bacteria. Studying yeast can lead to a better understanding of human biology as well.

“Gene expression is incredibly complex,” said Arnone. “There are layers upon layers, and they all interact with each other. They all interact and receive queues from a whole host of signaling pathways.”

The way that genes are located on a chromosome can affect how they are expressed, along with other factors. Dr. Arnone is attempting to figure out the specifics of how genes affect each other. According to Arnone, his biggest achievement has been shedding light on “how certain co-regulated sets of genes end up in positions where they can influence each other. And that process appears to be kind of random, but meaningful in a lot of ways.”

His published papers share information with the scientific community that could be helpful in further understanding the best way to create gene therapies and genetically modify crops in the future. Since genes are regulated in such a complex way, small changes can have large effects, so a greater understanding is paramount to progress.

“So far, I’ve worked with some great undergraduate and graduate students here, and 14 of them have been authors on papers with me,” Arnone said. Some will even continue to work in Arnone’s lab after they graduate.

William Paterson senior, Maria Katrina Holganza, approached Dr. Arnone her freshman year because she was interested in genetics. She is now a published scientific author as an undergraduate, which is very uncommon.

“We found there are genes that are functionally related,” Holganza said. Ribosomal protein genes are found in clusters, so the students conducted research to find what other related genes are in clusters, and why. “Evolutionarily there might be some reason behind it, so we were investigating that,” she said.

Holganza expressed her gratitude for what Dr. Arnone and the science program at WPU has provided for her. “I’ve grown so much and I’ve gotten so much information and knowledge,” Holganza said. “Usually people like to go to big schools, but trying to get a research position in those schools is very hard. I feel like you can have a relationship with your professors here that you can’t have in those schools. We’re doing graduate or Ph.D. level work here.”

“It gave me hands-on experience,” alumnus Ahmad Abu Hardan said of working in Dr. Arnone’s lab. “Right now I work in a medical lab, and a lot of what I learned over here, I can use over there. It gave me an upper hand.” Hardan is also published on Arnone’s latest paper.

“Aside from just learning techniques in lab, meeting these people” enhanced Irvin Gamarra’s experience at WPU. He is now a graduate student, graduate assistant, and an adjunct professor at WPU, and continues to work in Dr. Arnone’s lab. “Dr. Arnone is a great professor. He will help you out in every single step,” Gamarra said.

“I started to hone in on the molecular mechanism of aging,” said graduate student Nelson G. Mejia, who also worked in Dr. Arnone’s lab. “We were looking for genes that extend chronological lifespan. Right now, my interest lies in that. Once we find those genes, we can dig deeper into what is going on on a molecular level.”

Mejia referenced his work in the lab as an important experience for him. “This is where I transformed into the person I am now,” he said. “It fueled my passion to get my Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics.”

When asked his future goals, Arnone said, “Keep it going. I want to try to keep having a pretty large and active lab here, mainly because there are so many good, talented students. I want to keep being productive and keep pulling at the strings of the questions we’re answering and see where it goes.”

Dr. Arnone completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut as a Molecular and Cell Biology major. He completed his masters at Central Connecticut State University in Biomolecular Sciences. He attended graduate school at Wesleyan University, completing his degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Arnone started his work on gene expression in yeast there and continues his work at William Paterson University.