Proper neuronal signaling is crucial for any organism to maintain its neurological functions. Abnormal changes in neurotransmitter levels are implicated in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Deficiencies in the balance of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission occur in several types of neurodegenerative disease, and deficiencies in sensory signaling can accompany and exacerbate these conditions. A common excitatory to inhibitory balance in motor neurons is the ratio of acetylcholine to GABA signaling, and this balance is regulated upstream by glutamatergic sensory signaling. Therefore, it is of interest to determine what genes may act in pathways that connect all three types of signaling. Ubiquitin ligases are prevalent throughout the nervous system in cell signaling roles, and one ubiquitin ligase, rnf-40, could act to control all three signaling types. Using the model organism C. elegans we hypothesized that homolog rfp-1 regulates motor and sensory signaling. Based on this, we predicted that head bobs and full body convulsions would be seen, decreased cholinergic cell body counts, and decreased response to touch in both the head and tail. Upon experimentation, we discovered that rpf-1 does play a role in the both excitatory and inhibitory signaling, but not sensory signaling.
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Ryan is an undergraduate at Butler University studying biology and biochemistry. He is from Twinsburg, Ohio Ryan is also a staff editor for research and politics at The University Journal.