Sokolowski Lab

Sokolowski Lab

Genes, Environment & Behaviour

Oscar Vasquez

Oscar
oscar.vasquez@utoronto.ca

Previous Degree

  • H.B.Sc. Molecular Biology (University of Toronto, 2012)

Degree Pursuing

  • Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Publications

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.

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