Characterization of Novel Genes That Mediate Serotonin-Dependent Effects on Behavior

Delyar Khosroabadi, Lendin Stell Santiago, Skylar LaBrie, Jamie Ferns, Leighton Ledesma, & Dr. Gareth Harris


Brain targeting drugs and their actions have been an intensive area of research as potential therapeutics for neurological disorders. Despite the use of an array of pharmacological therapeutics to target neurological mechanisms associated with depression, understanding of the mechanisms underlying these processes and the exact targets of each drug is still not fully understood. More recently, there has been a focus on understanding novel mechanisms that mediate modulatory effects from key biogenic amines including serotonin, neuropeptides and electrical junctions in mood, emotion and reward. We are currently investigating the effects of serotonin on intracellular pathways and sensori-motor networks. We use Caenorhabditis elegans, to investigate the effects of serotonin on key worm behaviors utilizing genetic mutants that lack gene families encoding neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, intracellular signaling and electrical junctions for possible roles in serotonin effects on worm egg laying and locomotion. Many C. elegans genes share significant conservation with humans, which provides a potential avenue to identify effects of human targeting compounds that are still not fully understood. We have begun to characterize the role of novel intracellular neuronal signals, synaptic and non-synaptic information flow that is required for serotonin-dependent stimulation of egg laying and inhibition of locomotion. We have identified multiple neural signaling molecules that mediate serotonin-dependent effects, synaptic transmission and select neurotransmitter genes, neurosecretory signal encoding genes, and heterotrimeric G-protein signaling mechanisms that are required or interact with serotonin- dependent effects on egg laying and movement. We propose using C. elegans as a platform for continued study of serotonin mechanisms.


Session 2

3:00pm – 4:30pm

Grand Salon


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