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Identification of regulatory factors involved in the singular expression of members of an olfactory receptor gene cluster

Author Kaan Mika
Director of thesis Richard Benton
Co-director of thesis
Summary of thesis The precise transcriptional specification of neuronal fate is central to the development and function of nervous systems. In most olfactory systems, sensory neurons are distinguished according to the odours they detect by exclusive expression of a single olfactory receptor out of a vast repertoire. The olfactory system of Drosophila is a powerful model to address how the precise transcription of one receptor is established in different neuron populations, as it has significantly fewer receptors and neurons, and greater genetic accessibility than that of mammals. This project will investigate transcriptional regulation of the IR75 subfamily, which comprises three tandemly-arranged receptor genes expressed in distinct populations of sensory neurons in the antenna. First, I will generate a candidate list of transcription factors (TFs) involved in IR75 subfamily receptor expression by identifying TFs from the literature, motif searches and yeast one-hybrid screens. Second, I will determine which TFs are required for expression of IR75 subfamily members through an RNAi screen. Finally, I will investigate temporal, spatial and biochemical function of positive hits from this screen to determine their precise mechanism of action. Together, this work will provide insight into how tandemly gene duplicates acquire unique expression patterns and how neurons acquire functional diversity.
Administrative delay for the defence