The development of cell culture techniques to investigate the role of Emx2 in neocortical arealization


Brett Vagt

Faculty Mentor(s)

Todd Kroll (Chemistry)


The neocortex is a structure unique to mammalian brains and mediates conscious thoughts and actions. This structure contains four primary areas that processes discrete types of information: motor output and auditory, visual, and somatosensory (touch) input. Although these functional areas are separated by discrete boundaries shortly following birth, these clear boundaries are nonexistent during embryogenesis. The development of these boundaries (a process called neocortical arealization) is partially mediated by a variety of transcription factor proteins produced in gradients across the developing neocortex. These include the homeobox protein Emx2, which is one of the most studied proteins involved in this process. Emx2 is produced across the developing neocortex in a high posterior-medial to low anterior-lateral gradient. This gradient influences the boundary positions between the neocortical areas. Emx2, however, is not sufficient on its own to mediate this process. The Kroll lab focuses on the identification of novel binding partners for Emx2 that may assist with proper neocortical arealization. This strategy has led to the identification of four primary proteins of interest: Cnot6l and three isoforms of Quaking-I (QkI). The objective of this project has been twofold. First, to develop and implement procedures for mammalian cell culture, transient transfection, and RT-qPCR, for use in the Kroll lab, to further investigations of novel protein-protein interactions. Second, to investigate a potential mechanism for the regulation of p27KIP1, by Emx2, through interactions with Cnot6l and/or any of the quaking isoforms.

Keywords: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Molecular Biotechniques


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