Date of Award

Spring 2018



First Advisor

Dr. Pamela Vanderzalm


Tao-1 is a gene that controls the growth of mitotic tissues in Drosophila melanogaster through the Hippo signaling pathway. We have found that Tao-1 also functions independently of this pathway, in regulating the growth of synapses and formation of boutons at Drosophila neuromuscular junctions. We hypothesized that Tao-1 could be exerting its effects at the neuromuscular junction by working through a signaling pathway involving Par-1 and the microtubule associated protein, tau, to affect the microtubule cytoskeleton, which is essential for proper synaptic growth. We overexpressed or knocked down (by RNAi) the expression of each of these genes presynaptically in order to study the resultant effect on bouton number. Loss of Tao- 1, not its overexpression, affected neuromuscular junction growth by significantly increasing bouton number. Overexpression of par-1 and RNAi knockdown of tau also led to a significant increase in bouton number. Overall, this data suggests that Tao-1 could be working with Par-1 and tau to control microtubule stability and bouton formation.

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