Mitochondrial Localization and Interactions at Dendritic Branch Points of Drosophila Sensory Neurons

Open Access
Weinman-follick, Brandon Matthew
Area of Honors:
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Melissa Rolls, Thesis Supervisor
  • James Endres Howell, Honors Advisor
  • Scott Brian Selleck, Faculty Reader
  • Neuron
  • Development
  • Mitochondria
  • Drosophila
  • Dendrite
The correct positioning of organelles and proteins in dendrites is a necessity for normal dendrite development and, ultimately, proper neuron functioning. While there is currently an understanding of neuronal growth and development in relation to environmental cues, there is still a lack of understanding in what establishes the specific architecture of a dendrite. Mitochondria, an organelle well known for its energy production and trafficking in neurons, are robustly localized at dendritic branch points, as are other various proteins necessary for neuron development. We have previously determined specific regulators that affect localization of these dendritic branch point proteins. Therefore, we hypothesize that there is an active mechanism that is responsible for targeting mitochondria specifically at dendritic branch points. Using the Drosophila dendritic arborization neuron as a model, we have performed candidate RNAi screening on transgenic Drosophila with GFP-tagged mitochondria in order to identify the regulators involved in mitochondrial localization at dendritic branch points. The results of these knockdown experiments have shown that mitochondria are strongly targeted at branch points, as genetic screens weakly affect mitochondrial localization.