Date of Award

Summer 7-22-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. William Wathall

Second Advisor

Dr. Casonya Johnson

Third Advisor

Dr. John Houghton

Abstract

A process such as locomotion requires a well-connected cellular network that is assembled by a gene network. Caenorhabditis elegans offers a tractable model system allowing integrative studies of gene and cellular networks. We have combined bioinformatics and cellular approaches to investigate such networks. The D motorneurons compose a cross – inhibitory network essential for sinuous locomotion. Its terminal selector gene, unc-30 establishes the anatomical and neurochemical fates in these neurons. Three genes: unc-5, flp-11 and unc-104 are expressed in the D mns as well as other motorneuron classes. Using transcriptional reporters, we found that UNC-30 influenced the expression of each of these genes; however, in the most broadly expressed of the genes, unc-104, the impact of UNC-30 was less obvious. The bioinformatics analysis identified the cis-element for alr-1, in the promoters of all three genes. unc-30;alr-1 double mutant studies suggested that the two transcription factors act synergistically in regulating unc-104.

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