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The mission of the Symposium of University Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE) is to provide a university-wide forum for Central Washington University (CWU) students, encouraging equity, diversity, and inclusivity, representing all disciplines and experience levels, to present their mentored research, scholarship, and creative works in a juried environment that meets professional conference standards and expectations.

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Wednesday, May 18 • 12:15pm - 12:30pm
Biophysics of filament organization in the nervous system

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Microtubules (MTs) are a type of polymer filament that makes up the cytoskeleton of a cell. The cytoskeleton is a structure that maintains the cell shape and more. Proteins called molecular motors transport organelles along microtubules. Microtubules also maintain the structure of axons and dendrites in the nervous system. The organization of MTs into a specific pattern (process called polarity sorting) is essential for axons to function properly. Disruption of MT polarity can affect the distribution of organelles and lead to neuron degeneration. The objective of this project is to test how MT organization is impacted by a class of proteins in the axon called crosslinker proteins, which link two MTs together and do not affect their directional mobility through the axon. We are using a computational model that simulates the MT organization in the axon. The model simulates MT movement in response to forces from molecular motors, with tunable parameters that take into account the orientation of MTs, MT length, and protein attachment numbers. We analyze plots of simulated data to determine how the overall polarity is changing with respect to the changes in the contributions of each crosslinker protein type. We use this approach to investigate which crosslinkers are a significant advantage for polarity sorting of axonal MTs. This study will help address the importance of MT polarity corruption, which is a probable contributor to neuronal degeneration during disease and injury. Further study could foster strategies to overcome disease-related corruption of MT polarity patterns and correct the flaws.


Roy Cruz

Undergraduate, Biological Sciences;Physics


Erin Craig

Mentor, Physics

Wednesday May 18, 2022 12:15pm - 12:30pm PDT
Student Union & Recreation Center (SURC) - Ballroom D

Attendees (1)