Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Biological Sciences

Department or Program Chair

Maggie Louie, PhD

First Reader

Heinrich Jasper, PhD

Second Reader

Emily Willingham, PhD


My thesis work on the Drosophila intestinal epithelium (IE) involved characterizing the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt), validating proliferation specific regulatory genes, and proposing gut barrier function–specific genes as regulators of commensal bacteria density. The results from this project have shown that intestinal stem cells (ISCs) respond systemically in the presence of autonomously induced, visceral muscle (VM)-localized UPRmt. A phenotypic correlation between autonomous electron transport chain (ETC) dysfunction was observed in the visceral muscle and the systemic UPRmt response of ISCs in the posterior midgut. Exploratively, two genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using the Drosophila genetic reference panel (DGRP) were performed, and genetic candidates with functionally unknown effects on both ISC proliferation and gut flora homeostasis in an aged invertebrate tissue were found. These candidate genesDunce (Dnc), Tfb1 (TF11H Homolog), and Arrowhead (Awh)were validated to be genetic regulators of proliferative homeostasis with age. In addition, I proposed the genes Dystrophin (Dys) and Rolling Pebbles (Rols) to be mediators of microbial density relative to gut barrier integrity. Collectively, the work presented here has contributed to the fundamental understanding of regenerative biology and gerontology by demonstrating phenotypes of functionally novel, stem cell–specific genetic perturbations interpreted as regulatory factors of both ISC maintenance and activity.