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Honors Spotlight Star: Quaran Davis

Quaran Davis participates in Dr. Lyczak’s research investigating “The Genetic Interactions Between PAM-1 and MPF.”

1. Whose lab are you in?

  • I am in Dr. Lyczak’s lab.

2. What is the title of your research?

  • My title is “The Genetic Interactions Between PAM-1 and MPF”.

3. Give a brief summary of your research?

  • Caenorhabditis elegans are microscopic worms that are a great model organism for examining genes and proteins involved in the reproductive system because of their fecundity, easy manipulation, and easy to look at gonad. Lyczak’s lab has studied two versions of a puromycin aminopeptidase known as PAM-1. We have identified a missense mutation pam-1(or347), a partial loss-of-function of PAM-1. Also, a nonsense mutation, pam-1(or403), a complete loss of PAM-1. This PAM-1 protein is 36 – 37% similar to the humans Npepps protein. pam-1 mutants lay fewer viable embryos than wild-type worms because they have trouble completing meiosis due to it being significantly extended. However, we have also found another protein that rescues pam-1 mutants’ low hatch rate, known as WEE-1.3. WEE-1.3 inhibits the maturation-promoting factor (MPF) in oocytes to keep the immature oocytes from being fertilized. A suppressing mutation in wee-1.3 raised the hatch rate of pam-1 embryos from 2% to about 50%. Due to this, we believe PAM-1 has a direct or indirect effect on MPF. MPF is made up of cyclin B and cyclin-dependent kinase 1(CDK-1). To examine this interaction, I have been conducting localization studies of CDK-1 in wildtype, pam-1(or347), and pam-1(or403) using the confocal. I am also examining interaction studies of PAM-1 with MPF components in oocytes by using CDK-1 and WEE-1.3 RNAi with different variations of the strains. With these in hand, they will help further characterize PAM-1 and MPF’s interaction.

4. What was your motive for joining a research lab?

  • My motive for joining the research lab was to become more acquainted with biology as a whole and apply my knowledge from class to research. I wanted to study protein function in microscopic organisms and develop ways of manipulating them. Also, I wanted to meet more professors in the biology department to become more familiar with them.

5. How has participating in research affected your college experience?

  • Participating in research has made my college experience better because I have made great relationships with professors. So much that my family has made relationships with them as well. Research has helped me meet people of different backgrounds that opened me up to so many different ideas. It helped me become a more open minded individual. It even helped school become easier because I was able to form study groups with many of the people I met from research due to us having similar classes.

6. What has been the highlight of your research?

  • The highlight of my research has been that my lab and I have discovered that CDK-1 knockout has similar results as our WEE-1.3 knockout in pam-1 mutant worms. Such as WEE-1.3 knockout in pam-1 mutants causes the hatch rate to increase because pam-1 mutants has a low hatch rate with a functional WEE-1.3 protein. WEE-1.3 knockout causes oocytes to act be immature usually, but in pam-1 mutants, this isn’t the case. CDK-1 knockout in pam-1 mutants does not change the presence of the nucleolus, meaning that the oocytes were not immature. Making their knockout yield similar results, but they are two proteins that functions opposite to each other.

7. What are your future plans for after graduation?

  • My future plans after graduation is attending Villanova University to get a bachelors degree in nursing and then later becoming a nurse anesthetist.

8. Any words of wisdom for prospective future researchers?

  • Don’t quit on it because it seems difficult to understand in the beginning, trust me it gets better the more you do it and it becomes more fun.

9. Are there any fellow researchers or mentors you would like to thank?

  • I would like to thank my whole lab, Dr. Lyczak, Dr. Price, Caprice Eiselle, and Nareen Babian.

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