Student: Amanda Lewton
Mentor: Todd Kroll
The neocortex is the largest portion of the cerebral cortex, which deals with conscious mental functions within the mammalian brain. The neocortex contains four primary areas that process specific types of information (motor, auditory, somatosensory, and visual). These areas are formed during embryonic development through a process called neocortical arealization. Neocortical arealization is mediated in part by graded expression of the transcription factor Emx2. Utilizing the fact that many proteins work in cooperation with other proteins, a yeast two-hybrid screen was used to identify proteins that interact with Emx2. Three major isoforms of a protein called Quaking (QkI-5, QkI-6, and QkI-7) were found to interact with Emx2. QkI-6 was selected for further testing using a second yeast two-hybrid screen. This screen provided approximately 3200 yeast colonies each containing plasmids encoding potential QkI-6 binding partners. The DNA from many of these colonies have been isolated and sequenced, revealing proteins such as Rack1, CacyBP, and β-actin as potential QkI-6 binding partners. These results need to be verified as true interacting partners for QkI-6, and the proteins eventually tested for their ability to bind to Emx2 and other Emx2-binding proteins.