Biology ETDs

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We use the Drosophila system to define how genes control muscle development and function. Many of the genes in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, are conserved with higher animals, and so our results can be important in understanding mechanisms of vertebrate muscle development and disease. Study of the flight muscle progenitor populations in Drosophila gives clearer understanding of the genetic regulatory networks that lead to the development of flight muscle. The direct flight muscles (DFMs) and indirect flight muscles (IFMs) arise from the myoblast population of the notal region of the Drosophila wing imaginal disc. Within the myoblast population, there are gene expression differences between the progenitor cells for the IFMs and DFMs (Sudarsan et al, 2001), but the different factors that specify each myoblast type are poorly understood. Defining regulation of Vg expression in the imaginal disc myoblasts: One difference between DFM and IFM populations is expression of Vestigial (Vg), a nuclear protein. Vg expression in the myoblasts is regulated through a novel 899 bp enhancer region specific to the wing disc myoblasts. To explore the regulation of the Vg in the myoblasts, DNA-protein binding assays were used to find functional transcription factor binding sites in the enhancer. Defining gene expression in the myoblast populations in the wing disc: The study of the genetics of the wing disc myoblast population, allows us to gain understanding of the genes important in the specification of flight muscles, as well as some insight into the differences between the IFM and DFM populations. To study this, successful isolation of the progenitor cells is achieved through fluorescently labeling the myoblasts and developing a protocol for generating a single cell suspension from the intact wing discs. Successful isolation of these cells will allow for genomics techniques such as RNA-seq for analyzing the gene expression differences in the two myoblast populations.




Development, Muscle, Drosophila

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Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Cunningham, Charles

Second Committee Member

Johnston, Christopher