Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 (PD-1) is primarily recognized for its role in immunomodulation, where it functions as an inhibitory regulator of the immune response. However, recent research has started to examine PD-1’s involvement in neuromodulation. This project explores PD-1’s role within the context of chronic pain-induced anxiety and depression. The chronic pain model was established using a Spared Nerve Injury (SNI) on PD-1 KO and Wild Type (WT) mice, and verified using pain quantification tests. The resulting anxiety and depression were measured using several behavioral tests. The behavioral tests measuring anxiety did not find significant differences between the KO and WT mice at two weeks, which was expected as anxiety-like behaviors often take 6-8 weeks to appear in chronic pain models. We plan on addressing this limitation by performing a long-term version of this study. We did find notable differences in depressive behaviors between the two groups, in which the KO mice displayed lower levels of depression. This suggests that anti-PD-1 treatments may have a protective effect against depression. The preliminary results from this project will provide the basis for a continuation of research, leading to a greater understanding of PD-1’s role in pain-induced anxiety and depression.
Jennifer Tenor, PhD, John Perfect, PhD
Emily Prudot Gonzalez
Department of Medicine
Cryptococcus, a fungal pathogen, can be inhaled through pigeon excretes and multiple trees, which leads to the life threatening disease, cryptococcal meningitis. The growing emergence of cryptococcal anti-fungal resistance has made it difficult for clinics to treat cryptococcal meningitis, especially with limited antifungals. In deleting genes and growing them in conditions with increasing concentrations of the anti-fungal, fluconazole, we were able to target the deletion strains with fluconazole sensitivity and fluconazole resistance. The deletion strains were then defined along with their cellular or functional processes through the gene ontology, FungiDB. This allowed us to observe a measurable amount of membrane-related deletion strains and hypothetical proteins in both fluconazole resistant and sensitive phenotypes. Mitochondria-related deletions strains also have a considerably high concentration in the fluconazole resistant phenotype. These findings allow us to investigate the possible defense mechanisms within the mitochondria when met with high concentrations of fluconazole as well as create a starting point in researching the role of hypothetical proteins in the cell. Further down the line, the hopes are to use these learned mechanisms to develop a drug target and treat cryptococcal meningitis.
Mentors: Jonathan Colen, Mark Rausher, PhD
Department of Biology
Recent research has shown that introgression between species through hybridization is common. Despite this, some traits are seen to resist gene flow between species in sympatric environments. One organism that this is seen in is the morning glory. When I.lacunosa and I.cordatotriloba are present in the same area, lac populations are seen to stay practically the same while cord populations are seen to change. Furthermore, we commonly see limb color resist introgression but a loss of throat color when these species are in sympatry. This renders I.lac and I.cord good model organisms to study species boundaries and gene flow. This project is asking two questions with these species. One being how often does pink I.cord sire offspring, the other being what is the recombination rate between the limb color and throat color gene. While research is still ongoing, preliminary data has shown that these two genes have a low but noticeable recombination rate.