Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Jennifer Bestman

Committee Members

Beverly Sher

Christy Porter


In addition to meeting the cellular energy demand via oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondria are key to neural development through self-modification, both structural and distributional. As dynamic organelles, mitochondria alter their morphology by fusion and fission activities. These opposing events allow mitochondria to form interconnected networks or exist as transportable cargos, which allows cells to cope with different environments. Recent studies have indicated mitochondrial dynamics are associated with neural progenitor cell (NPCs) fate decisions. These neural stem cells contribute to diverse cell types of the nervous system, yet their division outcomes and regulatory mechanisms have mostly been described in vitro. Therefore, we adopt in vivo time-lapse imaging techniques to monitor and track mitochondrial positions and movement in the developing brain cells of albino Xenopus laevis tadpoles. Such methods allow us to preserve the surrounding neural circuitry and cellular inputs while capturing 3D confocal images of NPCs and mitochondria. My data suggest that newly generated neural progenitor cells have more mitochondria aggregated near the soma. Alternatively, mitochondria in quiescent NPCs are more likely to be in the distal end of the processes, far away from the site of cell division. Interestingly, my data suggest that neural progenitor cells might actively regulate mitochondrial distribution depending on their fate decisions.

On-Campus Access Only