Gene-Specific Impact on Morphology of Class IV Dendritic Arborization Neurons in Drosophila

Zachary Schmidt Denison University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Eric Liebl Denison University
The improper functioning of the class IV dendritic arborization neurons is linked to the abnormal branching patterns seen in human disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. Further, defects in the class IV neurons are responsible for failed developmental transitions in Drosophila. Several genes are involved in the maintenance of these sensory neurons, and downregulation of these genes has been shown to reduce developmental success and diminish nociceptive responses. I intend to further examine the role of one of these genes, hippo, by quantifying the physical characteristics of Drosophila neurons in larvae with reduced expression of hippo. I have already crossed flies to express GFP in the class IV dendritic arborization neurons to visualize the neurons. These flies also express an RNAi construct against hippo to achieve downregulation. I am using confocal microscopy to image the larvae’s class IV neurons and compare them to wild-type using Scholl analysis. This method involves counting the dendritic intersections of a series of concentric circles starting at the soma, and it provides an indication of the overall complexity of dendritic arbors. In the hippo-knockdown larvae, I expect to find physical differences in branch complexity that correspond to the reduced nociceptive abilities of these larvae. Specifically, I anticipate that larvae expressing hippo-RNAi will have diminished arborization, as this is consistent with past characterizations of the neurons of hippo-knockdown larvae. Regardless, the findings should inform future research on the neurobiological correlates of behavioral deficits in Drosophila larvae.
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Poster Presentation

When & Where

Irwin Library Lower Level