My main project involves examining the role of BMP signaling in learning and memory. BMP signaling components are known to be expressed in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is thought to be heavily involved in learning and memory in mammals. To investigate this, I perform various behavior tests in different strains of BMP mutant mice. Some tests I use include the Morris water maze to assess spatial learning and memory, as wells as tests of cognitive function such as novel object recognition.
The other project I work on in the lab involves the study of developmental timing in Drosophila melanogaster. I study the role of prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH) during the final larval instar using different transgenic fly strains. PTTH is thought to regulate the production and/or secretion of ecdysone, a steroid hormone that stimulates molting and metamorphosis in Drosophila.
McBrayer Z, Ono H, Shimell M, Parvy JP, Beckstead RB, Warren JT, Thummel CS, Dauphin-Villemant C, Gilbert LI, O'Connor MBProthoracicotropic hormone regulates developmental timing and body size in Drosophila. Dev Cell. 2007 Dec;13(6):857-71.PMID: 18061567 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Ghosh A., McBrayer, Z., and O’Connor M.B. (2010) The Drosophila gap gene giant regulates ecdysone production through specification of the PTTH-producing neurons. Devel. Biol. 347: 271-8 PMID: 20816678