Intellectual merit. Animals need to interact and respond to their environment in a timely fashion and they do so by the activity of neurons. Neurons are highly specialized cells that integrate multiple stimuli and conduct information in the form of fast electrical impulses. This information often must travel great distances, such as down the length of the spinal cord. Maintenance of neuronal function requires highly coordinated protein synthesis and subsequent movement to their proper intracellular location. A newly identified protein, maspardin, is thought to in part play a critical role in this intracellular trafficking process. The research goal of this project is to examine maspardin's contribution to BMP signaling, ligands belonging to the transforming growth factor superfamily, as well as growth factor receptor signaling and/or trafficking; to investigate whether disruption of signaling events following maspardin depletion alters intracellular machinery function such as Rab7 a widely expressed GTPase, important for trafficking, development and fusion of endocytic vesicles, and to identify novel maspardin interacting proteins.
Broader impacts. The activities associated with this project will increase student interest and success in science by engaging students from a rural regional university in meaningful research on a wide range of molecular and cellular techniques. Research activities include gene cloning, bacterial protein expression and purification, mammalian culturing techniques, siRNA induced gene knockdown, SDS-PAGE and western blot analysis, protein-protein interaction identification, microscopy and 2D Differential Gel Electrophoresis. Scholarly activities include technical research, critical thinking, and effective presentation and improved writing skills. Advancement of the research and developing a well-structured mentoring program will increase further participation of student?s involvement in research throughout the department, improve faculty involvement and benefit all involved. Current and future students will be better prepared for careers in scientific inquiry by participation in applied research. Targeted students include women, Hispanic, African-Americans, and other groups underrepresented in STEM fields.