CHARACTERIZATION OF THE SURVIVAL OF THE MOTOR NEURON GENE IN LAND PLANTS
Patricia Bancroft, Lisa Salazar, Mario Izaguirre Sierra.
Northern New Mexico College, Espanola, NM.
The importance of this research is the study of the relationship between the survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein and the Cajal body (CB) in Arabidopsis thaliana. SMN is involved in the biosynthesis of small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs), which are essential for splicing in all eukaryotes. SMN localizes in the cytosol and in the CB, which is an evolutionarily conserved nuclear structure. In animals and humans, mutations on the SMN gene cause spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) disorder. This degenerates the motor neurons in the spinal cord and weakens the muscular process. In order to understand the basic biology of SMN in land plants, we will be using Physcomitrella and Arabidopsis as model systems. The goal of our project is to characterize 5 different mutations on the AtSMN locus (At2g02570), focusing on the smn-5 allele. Simultaneously, we will use the Arabidopsis and Physcomitrella gene to rescue previously characterized Drosophila smn mutants. Our work will help to understand the basic biology of SMN in other model systems and to understand the function of this protein in evolution.