Department of Biology

Mitochondrial Trafficking in Zebrafish

Inside a cell, mitochondria are organelles that exhibit dynamic locomotion and spatial rearrangement.  This movement is necessary for a cell to maintain basic metabolic functions, and disruption of this motility often results in cell death.

Zebrafish-Mitochondria

Zebrafish-Mitochondria

Paxton Sickler ’17 
Matt Volk ’18 (R)

Faculty Sponsor:
Dr. Susan Walsh (L)

In fruit flies and mammals, one protein complex is primarily responsible for trafficking mitochondria along microtubules; this protein complex consists of three proteins:  Miro, Trak, and a motor protein.  My goal is to determine the relationship between mitochondrial trafficking and these proteins in the zebrafish model system.  With students, I am currently pursuing a range of questions such as 1) the effect of altering protein levels in vivo; 2) determining gene expression during development; 3) identifying pairwise protein-protein interactions; and 4) the effects of posttranslational modifications. Importantly, my scholarship is completely integrated with mentoring and teaching students, as both independent, year-long theses and course-based projects. My research questions require a range of skills including molecular biology, development, cell biology, genetics, and biochemistry.  Students can work on a component that is most exciting to them, whether it is watching a whole animal develop, exercising good microbiology techniques, or analyzing bands on a gel.