Oscar Vasquez


Previous Degree

  • H.B.Sc. Molecular Biology (University of Toronto, 2012)
  • Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (University of Toronto, 2023)


Vasquez, OE, Allen, AM, So, AK-C, Nguyen, QH, Krause, HM, Levine, JD, Sokolowski, MB. Characterizing the Protein Isoforms of foraging (for), the PKGI Ortholog in Drosophila melanogaster. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24, 10219. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/ijms241210219

Sokolowski D, Vasquez OE, Wilson MD, Sokolowski MB, Anreiter I. (2023). Transcriptomic effects of the foraging gene shed light on pathways of pleiotropy and plasticity. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1526. 10.1111/nyas.15015.

Anreiter I, Allen AM, Vasquez OE, To L, Douglas S, Alvarez J, Ewer J, Sokolowski MB. (2021). The Drosophila foraging gene plays a vital role at the start of metamorphosis for subsequent adult emergence. Journal of neurogenetics. 35. 1-13. 10.1080/01677063.2021.1914608.

Dason JS, Allen AM, Vasquez OE, Sokolowski MB. (2019). Distinct functions of a cGMP-dependent protein kinase in nerve terminal growth and synaptic vesicle cycling. Journal of Cell Science. 132. jcs.227165. 10.1242/jcs.227165.

Sokolowski HM, Vasquez OR, Unternaehrer E, Sokolowski D, Biergans S, Atkinson L, Gonzalez A, Silveira P, Levitan R, O’Donnell K, Steiner M, Kennedy J, Meaney M, Fleming A, Sokolowski MB. (2017). The Drosophila foraging gene human orthologue PRKG1 predicts individual differences in the effects of early adversity on maternal sensitivity ARTICLE IN PRESS. Cognitive Development. 42. 62-73. 10.1016/j.cogdev.2016.11.001.

Anreiter I, Vasquez OE, Allen AM, Sokolowski MB. (2016). Foraging Path-length Protocol for Drosophila melanogaster Larvae. Journal of Visualized Experiments. 10.3791/53980-v.

Anreiter I*, Vasquez OE, Allen AM, Sokolowski MB. 2016. Foraging Path-length Protocol for Drosophila melanogaster Larvae. J. Vis. Exp. (110), e53980, doi:10.3791/53980.

Thesis Title

Determining the role of protein isoforms in pleiotropy: a study of the foraging gene in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster

Research Summary

It is well known that the foraging (for) gene in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster mediates a variety of phenotypes that are dependent on the environment. Examples of these phenotypes include metabolic traits, food related behaviours, and learning and memory. The underlying molecular mechanisms that allow for to achieve this level of pleiotropy, however, are not well understood. My future research project will aim to elucidate some of these molecular mechanisms, especially as they relate to for’s protein variants, or isoforms. Specifically, for, which encodes a cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG), produces at least 4 isoforms that differ only in their N-terminal domains. Because PKG N-terminal domains are involved in protein recognition, auto-inhibition, cellular localization, and altering cGMP binding affinity, I hypothesize that for achieves some of its pleiotropy through a division of labour between its isoforms. To test this hypothesis I will use a series of molecular and biochemical techniques to determine isoform specific cellular localization patterns, substrate specificities, and/or catalytic rates. Using transgenic fruit flies, I also plan to alter the expression of these isoforms and assay the effect of this on a given behavioural phenotype. Ultimately I expect to find differences among for’s protein variants suggestive of isoform specific molecular functions.