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Title: Aspects of the regulation and function of atonal-like proneural genes in Drosophila neurogenesis
Author: Holohan, Eimear E.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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In Drosophila, all sense organ precursors require the function of a proneural gene for their specification. There are a number of proneural genes known, namely the achaete-scute complex, atonal and amos, each of which is responsible for a different type of sense organ. Unlike scute and atonal nothing is known of the cis-regulatory elements required for amos expression. Therefore one of the aims of my PhD was to identify the regulatory elements for amos. I was particularly interested in establishing if amos possesses autoregulatory enhancers and if this autoregulation is direct. As there are no known specific downstream targets of amos, identification of an autoregulatory enhancer provides a point of reference to compare other putative downstream target genes. Despite the profound effects of proneural genes on neurogenesis, the study of the differentially regulated downstream target genes has been severely curtailed by the scarcity of documented targets. A picture has yet to emerge of how the proneural factors function on a global, genomic level. Therefore in the second part of my PhD I focused on microarray analysis was a possible method for reliable identification of putative downstream target genes. I decided to pilot this approach by concentrating on the proneural gene atonal. My initial approach concentrated on whole embryos as the source of RNA for microarray experiments. This pilot study has proved the feasibility of applying microarray analysis to the challenge of identifying proneural target genes, but also highlights the limitations of a whole embryo approach. A major limitation is that there is a high proportion of cells that are not relevant to sense organ precursor formation present in the sample. A clear improvement to the method of isolating RNA from whole embryos is to develop a system to obtain pure populations of sense organ precursor cells.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available