Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
- Fisk University
Dopamine levels are precisely controlled throughout the animal kingdom to regulate coordinated movement, reward, and learning, yet we still have much to learn about how dopamine neurons fine-tune dopamine output. We are identifying and characterizing novel proteins required for dopamine neuron function in the model organism C. elegans through RNA-Seq, genetics, and pharmacological approaches. One protein we have shown to be important is the winged-helix transcription factor FKH-8, a member of the conserved Forkhead/Fox family. FKH-8 is expressed in all dopamine neurons from the embryo to the adult and is required for correct dopamine-dependent movement behavior. We are investigating downstream targets of FKH-8, which may include genes involved in dopamine metabolism. FKH-8 is also expressed in many other ciliated sensory neurons, and we are identifying those neurons and assessing the requirement of FKH-8. This includes the CO2/O2-sensing BAG neurons, which appear to have changes in key gene expression upon loss of FKH-8.
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
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,