Student-Faculty Programs Office
Summer 2017 Announcements of Opportunity

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Project:  Gut-brain interactions in HD
Disciplines:  Neuroscience, Biology
Mentor:  Ali Khoshnan, Senior Research Scientist, (BBE),, Phone: 626-395-1705
Background:  Huntington’s disease (HD) is a devastating genetically inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by expansion of polyglutamine (polyQ) in the exon-1 of huntingtin (HTT). Although mutated HTT gene is expressed in all stages of development, it usually takes ~30-40 years for symptoms to develop. Moreover, the age of disease onset is highly variable in carriers with similar polyQ length. Inflammation is a candidate environmental factor, which may influence to the progression of HD symptoms. Pre-manifest HD subjects have activated microglia and elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines including IL-1? and IL-6 and TNF-? several years before the onset of detectable motor symptoms. HD patients also display severe gastrointestinal complications. Moreover, HTT is expressed in the intestinal epithelium. However, influence of gut environment on the oligomerization of mutant HTT and its effect on the progression of HD symptoms remains unknown.

Recent studies highlight the importance of intestinal microbiota on brain development of neuropsychiatric disorders. We predict that microbial products may also affect the neurotoxicity of mutant HTT. Using a drosophila model of HD, we are testing the impact of bacterial byproducts, which are abundant in the intestinal lumen, on the polymerization and neurotoxicity of mutant HTT and behavior.
Description:  Breed HD flies in the presence of various intesntinal bacteria and examine for colonization and effects on brain pathology and behavior.
Student Requirements:  Basic biology and biochemistry
experience with Drosophila desired, but not required.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       Amgen Scholars    Non-Caltech students only  
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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Problems with or questions about submitting an AO?  Call Jen Manglos of the Student-Faculty Programs Office at (626) 395-2885.
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