Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Biology

Advisor(s)

Dr Susan Halsell

Abstract

The reflexive response and perception of pain (nociception) is an evolutionarily conserved process in animals. Pain can be a major health concern and current treatments often prove insufficient, especially in regards to chronic pain. Greater understanding of the molecular processes underlying pain sensation could lead to new and more effective treatments. The aim of this study is to investigate the molecular mechanisms of cold nociception in Drosophila melanogaster. A specific subset of peripheral sensory neurons (Class III dendritic arborization (da) neurons), are implicated in Drosophila larvae’s response to noxious cold.

Previous literature has associated a family of gap junction protein, termed Innexins, to be responsible for various roles in the structure of the central nervous system and the giant fiber system in Drosophila. It is unknown if the Innexin family also functions in the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS).

This study focused on Innexin family members as potential mediators of noxious cold-evoked sensory behavior within multidendritic neurons of the PNS. A cold behavioral assay was used to investigate the role of two innexin family member genes: ogre and shaking-B. The analyses revealed that Shaking-B may be required for nociceptors to react properly to a cold stimulus. Ogre was revealed to have an apparent inverse effect, in which Drosophila larvae responded more strongly to a cold stimulus when lacking the gene producct. These studies indicate that Innexins probably do play a role in the peripheral nervous system and in reacting to noxious cold stimuli.

 
 

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