Student Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

B.A. with honors

Honors Designation


Program of Study




First Advisor

Pablo M. Peixoto

Second Advisor

Rebecca F. Spokony

Third Advisor

Jean P. Gaffney


Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common denominator of neurodegenerative diseases, including hereditary and non-hereditary Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Ten percent of ALS cases are hereditary while a majority are sporadic, with no known hereditary link. For effective therapeutic approaches to be developed, there is a need for development of a sporadic animal model to better understand disease mechanism. In previous work, our laboratory developed an animal model (known as mitokiller flies) to study sporadic cases of ALS. The work reported in this honors thesis focuses on the use of optogenetics and electrophysiology recording to study the formation of excessive hydrogen peroxide emission using mitokiller flies as a model system. Hydrogen peroxide is a form of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which can affect synaptic plasticity. Synaptic plasticity is the ability for neurons to adapt to new information, and transmission- release of chemicals signals called neurotransmitters). Future studies will investigate protective factors such as glutathione peroxidase, an antioxidant enzyme that neutralizes hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water. By assessing their effect in combating the hydrogen peroxide induced dysfunction and potentially restoring normal synaptic activity, we can build the case for mitokiller flies being an effective sporadic model.

Included in

Biology Commons



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