Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Cell and Molecular Biology
Room: Exhibit Hall A
Chase Khedmatgozar - California State University Channel Islands
Co-Author(s): Chase Baker, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA; Nina Scalise, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA; Dr. Gareth Harris, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA.
Neuro-pharmacological agents and their actions have been an intensive area of research in relation to treatment of neurological disorders and understanding human behavior. Both medically relevant and recreationally used chemical compounds have profound short-term and long-term effects on influencing the mechanisms of the mammalian brain, and therefore exert significant changes in behavioral responses to different sensory stimuli. Despite the use of a large number of therapeutics for targeting neurological mechanisms involved in behavioral control and behavioral responses associated with sensation, information processing, and decision-making, the understanding of the mechanisms underlying these processes and the exact targets of these pharmacological agents are still not clear. We use the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, to investigate the effects of various classes of drugs (including antipsychotics, exogenous amines, antidepressants, and addictive compounds, such as stimulants and depressants) on a multi-sensory behavior. With only 302 neurons, C. elegans share significant conservation with mammalian systems. This is beneficial because C. elegans already have had their neuronal connectivity mapped, genome sequenced, and there are mutants for most neuronally expressed genes available. Our lab has previously identified a number of neurons and neuronally expressed genes required for worms to leave a food patch during exposure a drop of the chemical repellant, 2-nonanone. This behavior assesses a worm’s ability to sense and process dangerous cues that promote food leaving in an assay known as “2-nonanone-dependent food leaving assay”. This provides a platform to investigate the neural circuits further and examine the effects of nervous system targeting pharmacological agents. We hope to use this behavioral assay to 1) identify effects from the pharmacological application on this multi-sensory-dependent decision-making behavior when exposed to 2-nonanone, and, 2) identify potential targets in the nervous system for these neurological compounds. We have tested multiple pharmacological drugs and have found at least one drug that enhances food leaving during exposure to 2-nonanone. This result suggests that specific pharmacological compounds can alter the food leaving behavior in worms and provides a platform to study the drug effects on the worm’s nervous system further. A mutant analysis will be performed to identify potential neural targets of the pharmacological drugs tested. This research provides a potential avenue to identify effects of human neurological compounds on molecular mechanisms and the neural circuits that control decision-making. References: Ghosh, D Dipon, Zhang Y, Nitebach M, Harris G, et al. (2017)“Multisensory integration in C. elegans.” Current opinion in neurobiology vol. 43: 110-118. Harris, G, Zhang et al. (2019) “Molecular and cellular modulators for multisensory integration in C. elegans.” PLoS genetics vol. 15,3 e1007706.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. NSF HRD-1302873 and the CSU Chancellor's office. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Faculty Advisor: Gareth Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: I performed a literature review to determine what compounds to use and their concentrations. I prepared the assay plates used for all the experiments, including putting the different compounds into the plates. I prepared all of the medias that are used for growing bacterial cultures, rearing worms, and used for making assay plates. I inputted all of the data onto Excel and did statistical analysis on the data to determine significance. Additionally, I performed a mutant analysis with the different compounds. Finally, I wrote abstracts, proposals, and grants associated to this research.