Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Bernie Wone

Second Advisor

Beate Wone

Third Advisor

Etienne Z. Gnimpieba


Transcription, Rstudio, Cytoscape, Master Regulator Analysis

Subject Categories

Bioinformatics | Molecular Genetics


ABSTRACT DETERMINING MASTER REGULATORY GENES OF MUSCLE SENESCENCE IN THE HAWK MOTH, MANDUCA SEXTA Leah Naasz Director: Bernie Wone, Ph.D. Skeletal muscle exhibits a gradual deterioration of its functional capabilities as it senesces. While the adverse effects of muscle aging are well-known, the molecular trigger of this degenerative process is unknown. Here, I aim to identify master regulatory genes (i.e., transcription factors) that might be involved in the initiation of the muscle senescence process in our muscle aging model Manduca sexta. This invertebrate adult moth was chosen as the model organism due to its relatively short lifespan, similarity to the vertebrate muscular system, and relatively low-cost to rear. Master regulatory genes are genes of a particular signaling pathway that is expressed at the foundation of specific biological pathways including growth, development, or disease manifestation. Time series RNA-Seq data can be used to construct gene regulatory networks to determine master regulatory genes. Here, I used the corto package in Rstudio to infer regulatory gene networks and create a regulon from the time series transcriptomics dataset from muscle tissue of Manduca sexta. Corto inferred a regulon of 118 candidates (r > 0.74). The regulon was visualized by Cytoscape to determine highly interconnected genes as possible master regulator genes of muscle senescence. Further research into the validation of top candidate genes is needed using qRT-PCR or knock out approaches. Discovering the master regulatory genes in Manduca sexta will help identify biomarkers involved in the upregulation of the muscle aging process.



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