Date of Award

8-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Turnbull, Matthew W

Committee Member

Hersh , Bradley

Committee Member

Paul , Kimberly

Committee Member

Temesvari , Lesly

Abstract

Communication means everything. From vocalization to the firing of a neuron, coordination through the exchange of signals is essential to the survival of all living things. At the cellular level, communication is accomplished through the use of gap junction channels. Gap junctions are found in virtually all multicellular animals, where they play critical roles in developmental, physiological, metabolic, and even structural processes. From the maintenance of heart rhythms in humans, to the coordination of tissue regeneration in flatworms, and to the processing of visual stimuli in flies, the roles for gap junctions are diverse. However, how this diversity is accomplished is not fully understood.
Throughout my dissertation, I have focused on the most ancient (and diverse) gap junction gene family, the innexins. I will present a case of diversity for the innexins within the complex relationship between insects and polydnaviruses and explore the potential of innexins as mediators for cellular immunity and parasite manipulation. In addition, I will discuss the implications for our discovery of a novel innexin. With a focus on a conserved innexin within a context that exhibits diversification, this work will serve as a starting point for predicting gap junction functions.

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Biology Commons

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