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  • Shira Levin
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Shira Levin

Phenotypic Observations of Cytoskeletal Genes in C. elegans Compared to pam-1 Mutants

Project Description

The nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, is a known model organism in developmental biology and genetics. We use this model to understand the events happening in the early embryo. The framework of any organism is the cytoskeleton, which holds together the interior contents of the cell and works with the cell to polarize and set up the body axis. The purpose of understanding the cytoskeleton is to learn about the key factors in the development and what processes and genes are needed to make the embryos viable. The aminopeptidase, pam-1, is an important regulator of the cytoskeleton, and learning about how it functions in the cytoskeleton is important. An efficient way to learn about the function of genes is to use RNAi or RNA interference. By using this technique, specific genes can be removed from the forming embryos and the effects can be observed. Three principal genes known to be crucial for the cytoskeleton are pfn-1, zen-4, and cyk-1. These three genes each function in different ways but ultimately were required for the normal development of the C. elegans. Each gene was tested for the presence of ruffling, blebbing, and symmetric division, and the data was compared to that of a wild-type embryo. These conclusions showed the variant effects of knocking out each developmental gene. The degree of severity of the effects could show if the embryos would be viable or if the gene is needed for successful development. After successfully removing the specific gene being tested, the worms were analyzed using a differential interest contrast microscope. The division of single-cell embryos to two cell embryos of the worms was recorded and compared to those of normal and pam-1(or403) mutant embryos. By cross comparing each gene, data was collected and significant differences in development could be seen. The results of this study will help us understand the functions of different cytoskeletal genes. These conclusions can then be used to create pathways, such as signal pathways, to learn how these developmental genes might interact with other genes in the cell. The developmental functions of genes related to the aminopeptidase in the cytoskeleton of C. elegans can be compared to that of the pam-1 human ortholog.

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Faculty Advisor

Rebecca Lyczak


Center Valley, PA