- Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 2005
- B.S., DePaul University, 1986
- General Biology for Majors I and II
- Developmental Biology
- Evolutionary Biology
- Genetic Principles
- Cell and Molecular Methods Lab
Christine E. Gray, Ph.D., is a molecular geneticist with an interest in mechanisms of gene regulation and development. Much of her early research involved the identification and initial characterization of a CTCF-like protein in both Aedes aegypti (the primary vector of both yellow fever and dengue fever) and Anopheles gambiae (the principal vector of malaria). CTCF is a well-known insulator binding protein in vertebrates, and its mosquito homologue may provide a useful means to increase the efficiency of the process used to make transgenic mosquitoes.
Transgenic mosquitoes are made for two key reasons: to learn more about key mosquito genes involved in the natural transmission of pathogens and to potentially create mosquito strains that are unable to transmit pathogens such as viruses, filarial worms and protozoans.
At St. Mary’s, Gray is working with several undergraduates on a project to investigate role of small regulatory RNAs in a phenomenon known as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) in fruit flies (Drosophila). CI results when specific bacteria (Wolbachia) infect the reproductive tissues of insects. These bacteria are then passed very efficiently from mother to offspring, while uninfected females who mate with infected males are essentially sterile.
Gray hopes that greater understanding of this natural phenomenon might assist others who utilize Wolbachia as part of a strategy to reduce the ability of insect vectors of disease to transmit pathogens. The system highlights the dynamic natural interaction between three distinct sources of DNA in two types of living cells: the fly cells are infected with Wolbachia which have previously been infected by a virus. Expression of genes from any of these three DNA sources affects and is affected by expression of genes from the others. This dynamic gene expression clearly affects the success of both the flies and the parasitic bacterial strain they harbor. Understanding the changing gene expression in the system is important in monitoring the success of this type of vector control strategy.
Finally, Gray enjoys developing new teaching and learning strategies with faculty colleagues and St. Mary’s students. She has co-facilitated a Faculty Learning Community in the School of Science, Engineering and Technology for the past several years and is engaged in on-going course revision that facilitates more active and reflective learning. In 2015, she was recognized by the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association by receiving the Distinguished Faculty Award.
Gray, C.E. and Contreras-Shannon, V.E. (2014) Using models from the literature and iterative feedback to teach students to construct effective data figures for poster presentations. Journal of College Science Teaching 46:74-82.
Gray, C.E. and Coates, C.J. (2005) Cloning and characterization of cDNAs encoding putative CTCFs in the mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae. BMC Molecular Biology 6:16.
Gray, C.E. and Coates, C.J. (2004) High-level gene expression in Aedes albopictus cells using a baculovirus Hr3 enhancer and IE1 transactivator. BMC Molecular Biology 5:8.