Project Title

What is the Relationship between Neurogenin and Ephrin during Neuronal Development?

Presenters

Academic department under which the project should be listed

CSM - Molecular and Cellular Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Martin Hudson

Abstract (300 words maximum)

In order to grow from a single cell to a fully functioning human, numerous temporal and spatially specific genes need to be activated. In the nervous system, improper regulation of these genes leads to neurodevelopmental disorders ranging from mild depression to severe motor disorders. Neurogenin (ngn-1) is a transcription factor required for axonal guidance and the connectivity of neurons, and therefore plays a large role in neuronal development. However, the processes by which ngn-1 regulates this development are still unclear.

To better understand how ngn-1 regulates neuronal development, we are studying how this gene functions in Caenorhabditis elegans. This 1mm-long roundworm is an excellent model organism to study because their transparent bodies allow us to visualize their neurons and track each cell as the worm grows to full size. Also, C. elegans’ short life span provides an opportunity to quickly analyze genetic crosses. Finally, ngn-1 function appears to be deeply conserved between C. elegans and humans (indeed many organisms), playing a key role in regulating neuronal development, allowing us to extrapolate findings.

The cell surface ephrin (efn-4) is a ligand required for neuroblast migrations and thus could be under the control of ngn-1. In order to study their relationship, we are attempting to create a double mutant worm containing both ngn-1 and efn-4 mutations.

To see the effects of this relationship, we will examine the double mutant’s AIY by tagging them with GFP. The AIY interneurons function in thermotaxis, locomotion and the starvation response. We will compare the AIY morphology of these double mutants with the tagged AIY of ngn-1 and efn-4 single mutant worms. Furthermore, changes in the double mutant worm’s behavior and morphology will also provide insight into the ngn-1 and efn-4 relationship.

This project is a small part of a larger project focusing on how ngn-1 regulates neuronal development throughout the C. elegans nervous system. This research will hopefully provide insights into neurogenin function in humans and allow us to develop remedies for human neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

Project Type

Poster

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What is the Relationship between Neurogenin and Ephrin during Neuronal Development?

In order to grow from a single cell to a fully functioning human, numerous temporal and spatially specific genes need to be activated. In the nervous system, improper regulation of these genes leads to neurodevelopmental disorders ranging from mild depression to severe motor disorders. Neurogenin (ngn-1) is a transcription factor required for axonal guidance and the connectivity of neurons, and therefore plays a large role in neuronal development. However, the processes by which ngn-1 regulates this development are still unclear.

To better understand how ngn-1 regulates neuronal development, we are studying how this gene functions in Caenorhabditis elegans. This 1mm-long roundworm is an excellent model organism to study because their transparent bodies allow us to visualize their neurons and track each cell as the worm grows to full size. Also, C. elegans’ short life span provides an opportunity to quickly analyze genetic crosses. Finally, ngn-1 function appears to be deeply conserved between C. elegans and humans (indeed many organisms), playing a key role in regulating neuronal development, allowing us to extrapolate findings.

The cell surface ephrin (efn-4) is a ligand required for neuroblast migrations and thus could be under the control of ngn-1. In order to study their relationship, we are attempting to create a double mutant worm containing both ngn-1 and efn-4 mutations.

To see the effects of this relationship, we will examine the double mutant’s AIY by tagging them with GFP. The AIY interneurons function in thermotaxis, locomotion and the starvation response. We will compare the AIY morphology of these double mutants with the tagged AIY of ngn-1 and efn-4 single mutant worms. Furthermore, changes in the double mutant worm’s behavior and morphology will also provide insight into the ngn-1 and efn-4 relationship.

This project is a small part of a larger project focusing on how ngn-1 regulates neuronal development throughout the C. elegans nervous system. This research will hopefully provide insights into neurogenin function in humans and allow us to develop remedies for human neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.