Year of Publication

2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. John M. Rawls

Abstract

The mammalian genome encodes five collapsin response mediator protein (CRMP) isoforms. Cell culture studies have shown that the CRMPs mediate growth cone dynamics and neuron polarity through associations with a variety of signal transduction components and cytoskeletal elements. CRMP is also a member of a protein family including the presumably ancestral dihydropyrimidinase (DHP) protein that catalyzes the second step in pyrimidine degradation. In Drosophila, CRMP and DHP proteins are produced by alternatively spliced transcripts of the CRMP gene. The alternative protein forms have a 91% sequence identity, but unique expression patterns. CRMP is found exclusively in neuronal tissues and DHP is ubiquitously expressed in non-neuronal tissues. Comparative analysis of CRMP homologous sequences from insect taxa show CRMP alternative splicing is a common feature and probably represents the ancestral state of this gene family.

To investigate the regulatory role of CRMP, loss-of-function mutations of CRMP that lack both proteins were isolated; homozygous animals display DHP-null phenotypes but exhibit no overt developmental or neurological defects. To determine possible interactions of Drosophila CRMP with signaling pathways in which mammalian CRMP has been shown to act, the UAS-GAL4 system was utilized. Phenotypes produced by misexpression of a variety of UAS signal transduction mediator responders were modified in a CRMP mutant background. The modification entails enhancement or suppression of a specific phenotype in a direction that corresponds to the hypothesized involvement of mammalian CRMP in signaling pathways that regulate growth cone dynamics. These data suggest that Drosophila CRMP has a role in cell signaling pathways similar to the role of the mammalian CRMPs.

Furthermore, recent findings demonstrate that CRMP plays an important role in learning and memory of mice, leading to the assessment of new phenotypes in the Drosophila CRMP mutants. Tests utilizing the Pavlovian olfactory conditioning assay reveal that loss of CRMP function leads to significant learning, 3 hour memory, and long term memory deficits. Preliminary data also suggest that Drosophila CRMP may be required for normal circadian locomotor rhythms. Collectively, the data presented here demonstrate CRMP’s role in adult behavioral processes and regulating signaling events comparable to mammalian CRMP signaling.

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