Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)


Interdisciplinary Studies


Margaret Saha

Committee Members

Dana Wilner

Tyler W. Davis


Plasticity is an integral component of all living tissues and embryos display a profound degree of robustness. To analyze the limits of this robustness, several different types of perturbations were performed on the anterior-posterior neural axis of Xenopus laevis embryos. A global gene expression RNA-Seq experiment was done on all embryo transplants and a control. Our RNA-Seq data suggest a model in which aspects of early neural plasticity are associated with unique pathways and their associated genes. One set of pathways is enriched in all classes of transplants that heal and may mediate the ability of any type of transplant to incorporate and heal into neighboring tissue. This includes the upregulation of ubiquitination apoptosis and oxidative stress genes. The transcriptome analysis reveals several combinations of pathways and genes that incorporate and heal foreign tissue, but also re-pattern the anterior-posterior axis. Maintaining plasticity in these transplants was correlated with expression of neuronal transcription factors, chromatin modifiers, Wnt signaling, calcium signaling, and pattern recognition molecules and pathways. In addition to identifying gene pathways involved in plasticity, the complexity and number of comparisons has necessitated a novel Bayesian approach and analysis of the RNA-Seq data.

On-Campus Access Only