Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Dr. John Swaddle

Committee Members

Dr. Josh Puzey

Dr. Robert Hinkle


Wallerian degeneration is a pathway present in many neurodegenerative conditions. Recently, a key player in this pathway was discovered: the multidomain protein SARM1 (Sterile Alpha and TIR Motif Containing 1). Prior to this discovery, the SARM1 protein was primarily thought to be an innate immune molecule, so its role in Wallerian degeneration has raised questions about its evolution. Here, we try to understand SARM1’s evolution by analyzing the molecular changes of SARM1 and genes around SARM1. Using proteins with the domains found in SARM1, protein distances and Ka/Ks values were found through 5671 pairwise species-species comparisons; these values demonstrate that SARM1’s divergence is unlike other TIR-domain containing proteins. As it was expected that SARM1 would behave like other TIR-domain containing proteins, this was a surprise. In addition to comparing SARM1’s divergence to that of other TIR domain containing proteins, we found that the surrounding gene cluster around SARM1 is highly conserved through synteny analyses. Finally, we applied some of these techniques on the most common genetic cause of ALS: C9ORF72.