Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s continue to have devastating effects on millions of people and while much has been studied about these diseases, the mechanisms through which neurodegeneration is initiated are still not fully understood. The RFX transcription factor DAF-19 might help elucidate this mechanism. In early development, one of the five isoforms of DAF-19 is responsible for sensory neuron ciliogenesis critical for sensory perception in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Recent studies suggest that in later development, a larger DAF-19 isoform might play an important role in neural processes such as synaptic maintenance known to be disrupted in neurodegenerative diseases. In an effort to better understand the role of DAF-19 in neuronal health, six genes identified by microarray analysis to be differentially expressed in daf-19 mutant worms were analyzed for DAF-19 dependence and neuronal gene expression. Transcriptional reporter constructs for each of the potential DAF-19 target genes were microinjected in C. elegans. Transgenic worm strains differing only in the presence of the null allele of daf-19 were produced and gene expression patterns were compared and characterized using confocal microscopy. Of the six reporters analyzed for the present experiment, two show markedly different expression patterns in the nervous system.
Level of Honors
magna cum laude
Elizabeth De Stasio
Hurlburt, Alexander J., "A Secret to the Synapse: Investigating the Targets of the Transcription Factor DAF-19 in the Nervous System of Caenorhabditis Elegans" (2014). Lawrence University Honors Projects. 63.