2022 Student Research Conference:
35th Annual Student Research Conference

A role for the Fem-1 gene of Drosophila melanogaster in synapse formation


Jeremiah A. Domon
Dr. Brett A. Berke, Faculty Mentor

The Fem gene family is evolutionarily conserved and influences sex determination and development. We are studying the Fem-1 gene of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. The amino acid sequences of Drosophila Fem-1A/B are moderately conserved compared to Fem-1 in humans and worms (C. elegans), all of which share domains that mediate protein interactions and modification (ubiquitination). We previously observed defects in adult courtship behavior, where Fem-1 male flies courted females more vigorously, with increased chasing and singing but with no change in copulation success. These behavioral changes may stem from disruptions in synapse development. We’ve been investigating this hypothesis at the larval neuromuscular junction (NMJ), a model for synapses in the adult CNS. We found that Fem-1 mutant larvae develop larger NMJs with unusual connections onto non-target muscles. Such ‘improper’ connections are usually pruned early in development, so future studies may provide insight into additional mechanisms of synapse development.

Keywords: Drosophila, Fem-1, Synapse, Courtship, NMJ, CNS

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Session: 2-9
Location: SUB Activities Room
Time: 3:00

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