Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2021


The cytoskeleton is crucial to maintaining an even distribution of chromosomes and subsequently to divide the cell during every cell cycle. During mitosis, spindle structure and movement dictates how chromosomes will be separated and act as the sole mechanism for even distribution of these chromosomes. The cytoskeleton also remains a major cellular component during cytokinesis when the cell must cleave the membrane in order to form two resulting daughter cells. Both processes require an extensive use of the immobile structures of the cytoskeleton, such as microtubules (MTs), intermediate filaments, and microfilaments, but also the mobile units, which are the motor proteins moving along them. In this study, we focus on how two kinesins, the most common class of motor protein, bind to both their cargo and to MTs. Mushroom body defect (Mud) is a Drosophila homolog of the human Nuclear mitotic apparatus protein (NuMA), which are both responsible for coordinating many signaling sequences in the cell throughout mitosis. Here, we show how Mud binds to two mitotic kinesins, Non-claret disjunctional (Ncd) and Pavarotti (Pav). First, we show the binding pattern of Mud to Ncd and how this regulates a putative autoinhibition mechanism in Ncd. We believe that this Mud function allows for the activation of Ncd in order to crosslink microtubules during mitosis. Next, we determined the binding pattern between Mud and Pav, and show that phosphorylation of Pav causes an increase in binding of Mud. We hypothesize that phosphorylation of Pav is a method of activation for this interaction and that the interaction itself causes Mud to localize to the cell cortex during asymmetric cell division.

Project Sponsors

Christopher A. Johnston




Kinesin, Mitosis, Cytoskeleton, Mitotic Spindle, Mushroom Body Defect

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Christopher A. Johnston

Second Committee Member

Diane S. Lidke

Third Committee Member

TyAnna Lovato

Included in

Biology Commons