Effects of Thrombospondin (TSP) on NMJ Structure and Locomotion of Drosophila melanogaster

Karli Corey1 ‘21, Isa Maxwell1 ‘21, Lukas Rotello2 ‘22, Grace Woods1 ‘22, Allie Osgood1 ‘20, Ariel Shaw2 ‘19, Daniela Mendoza3 ‘20, Asia Wooten2 ‘20, Abhinav Janappareddi4, Eve Lowenstein4 ‘17, Norma Velázquez-Ulloa12, , Lewis & Clark College

1. Department of Biology; 2. BCMB Program; 3. UNAM; 4. summer research volunteer

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  • Neuromuscular Junction (NMJ) Disorders, such as Myasthenia gravis, Isaac’s Syndrome, and Botulism affect many people worldwide. Individuals with these disorders experience symptoms such as locomotor difficulties and muscle fatigue that can make daily life difficult. Despite the effects on public health, little is known about the NMJ and the mechanisms that contribute to these disorders. There are many proteins found at the NMJ that assist with its formation and function; thrombospondin (TSP) is one of these proteins. Using Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) as our model organism, we investigated the effects of decreased expression of TSP in neurons and muscles. We analyzed changes in NMJ structure and the locomotion patterns of larvae for eight stains. Of these strains, some were control parent strains and others were experimental strains. These strains allowed us to control the expression of TSP through crossing strains and changing the temperature at which the flies developed. Our results showed trends suggesting that there is no significant difference observed in NMJ structure when TSP expression is decreased in neurons or muscles. Larvae with a decreased expression of TSP in the muscle traveled farther than larvae with normal TSP expression. These results may indicate that the decreased expression of TSP at the NMJ is impacting normal muscle function, preliminary results show NMJ polygon area is not affected but further research is needed to confirm this.