Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Amy Zhong L&S Sciences

The Role of Tox3 in the Neurodegeneration

Neurodegenerative disorders, caused by abnormal death of neurons, manifest in incurable and debilitating conditions. Ataxia, the loss of muscle coordination of voluntary movements, is a hallmark symptom of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinsons. Various genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have pointed to Tox3s crucial role in neurodegenerative diseases, but current knowledge on its relationship with ataxia is limited. Tox3 is a transcriptional coactivator that confers protective anti-apoptotic effects in the brain, with the highest level of expression in cerebellar Purkinje cells. Our preliminary data show that mice with Tox3 deletion show signs of ataxia and cerebellar atrophy. My proposed project aims to further investigate the ataxic effects of knocking out Tox3 specifically in the nervous system of mutant mice through various behavioral tests. Due to limited access to university laboratories during the Covid-19 pandemic, I will also be writing a review paper on the role of Tox3 in the central nervous system remotely. It will encompass three sections: mammalian neural development, Tox3 structure and function, and the implications of Tox3 in neural development and pathological processes. Understanding the predominant role of Tox3 on maturation and survival of cerebellar neurons may lead to a better understanding in developing potential therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.

Message To Sponsor

I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the Pergo Fund for your incredible generosity in supporting this project. The journey of pursuing biology research is fascinating, humbling and full of surprises. I was able to pursue an independent research project during this summer, attempting to answer questions that I've always wanted to tackle. The lessons that I learned from this summer will always be with me no matter where I go or what I decide to do in the future.
Profile image of Amy Zhong
Major: Molecular and cell biology, History of art
Mentor: Guo Huang
Sponsor: Pergo Fund
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