Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
Brian Nelms - Fisk University
Co-Author(s): Erica Tross, Corey Roach, Bryan Cawthon, Kai Bracey, Jen Quinde, Debresha Shelton, and Destane Garrett, Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program, Nashville, TN
Across the animal kingdom, diverse neuron types are responsible for sensing and responding to environmental and internal signals. For proper neuron function, the right genes encoding important pathway components must be turned on or off by combinations of specific transcription factors . We wish to discover new molecules required for the function of specific neurons, including both the necessary transcription factors and their downstream targets. FKH-8 is one of 15 C. elegans members of the winged-helix DNA-binding ‘forkhead’/Fox protein family. We have shown that FKH-8 is expressed in all dopamine neurons from the embryo to the adult and is required for their function. FKH-8 is also expressed in other ciliated sensory neurons including the CO2/O2-sensing BAG neurons. Through cell-specific high-throughput RNA Sequencing, we have identified many genes with enriched expression in dopamine neurons and have also identified genes with altered expression in fkh-8 mutant worms. We are in the process of testing some of these genes for dopamine neuron function. We will also begin cell-specific RNA-Seq to examine BAG neurons with and without FKH-8, in an effort to identify new molecules and FKH-8 targets involved in CO2-sensing function.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF HBCU-UP RIA #HRD14-01091; NSF HBCU-UP TIP #HRD13-32491; NSF CREST #HRD15-47757; NIH R25 #1R25MD010396-01; NIH R25 #1R25GM107754-01; US Dept of Ed Title VII #P382G090004
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,