Date of Award

Summer 7-20-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Integrative Biology (MSIB)



Major Professor

Dr. Scott J. Nowak

First Committee Member

Dr. Donald McGarey

Second Committee Member

Dr. Marcus C. Davis

Third Committee Member

Dr. Martin L. Hudson


The highly conserved nuclear protein Akirin was previously identified as a cofactor that modulates Twist transcription factor activity during muscle development in Drosophila melanogaster. Akirin mediates an interaction between the Twist transcription factor and the multisubunit Brahma SWI/SNF-class chromatin remodeling complex at control elements of the Dmef2 locus to maintain optimal myogenic gene expression levels. Therefore, Akirin represents a class of novel secondary cofactors that work with transcription machinery to link transcription factor output with chromatin remodeling machinery to facilitate gene expression. Previous work establishes that Twist and Akirin also interact at Twist-responsive control elements of the tinman gene, which regulates formation and development of the insect heart. Similar to other Twist-regulated loci, Akirin appears to positively regulate tinman expression and affect development and positioning of cardiomyocytes. Together these results uncover a potential new method of regulation for the tinman locus during cardiac development.