Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Sivapratha Nagappan Chettiar L&S Sciences

The Role of PTEN Tumor Suppressor Gene in Regulating the Elimination of Neural Stem Cells in Drosophila

Neurogenesis, the production of new neurons, occurs via the asymmetrical division of neural stem cells in specific regions of the mammalian and Drosophila brain. It is a highly regulated process as proper neuron type and number is crucial to allow the proper formation and functioning of the brain. In Drosophila brain, much is known about the pathways that regulate asymmetric cell division. However, little is known about the mechanisms that regulate its termination. In PTEN tumor suppressor gene mutants, neural stem cells aberrantly persist in the brain of adult Drosophila. My research aims at determining the role of PTEN in regulating the elimination of neural stem cells in Drosophila. It is hypothesized that PTEN mutants have aberrantly persistent neural stem cells because the insulin pathway is no longer being antagonized. Understanding the role of PTEN is significant because mutations of this gene are found in cancer patients such as those with glioblastoma.

Message To Sponsor

SURF has given me the chance to actively engage in fulltime research and to explore my interests without having to worry about homework and classes. Furthermore, it has provided me with the opportunity and skills to contribute to, learn from and interact with other students who are equally passionate about exploring a field of interest. Working in a lab is a great deal messier and requires a lot more brainstorming and trouble-shooting that no books or class can prepare you for. This summer, thanks to SURF and the Hariharan Lab, I am able to fully explore, learn about and experience the life of a researcher in a lab and it's truly been fun indeed!
Profile image of Sivapratha Nagappan Chettiar
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
Mentor: Iswar Hariharan, Molecular & Cell Biology
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