GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program



Department of Neurobiology; Freeman Lab

First Thesis Advisor

Marc Freeman


Wallerian degeneration, dendrite degeneration, nervous system


Dissertations, UMMS; Axons; Dendrites; Drosophila melanogaster; Neurites; Neurodegenerative Diseases; Neurons; Wallerian Degeneration


Neurons comprise the main information processing cells of the nervous system. To integrate and transmit information, neurons elaborate dendritic structures to receive input and axons to relay that information to other cells. Due to their intricate structures, dendrites and axons are susceptible to damage whether by physical means or via disease mechanisms. Studying responses to axon injury, called Wallerian degeneration, in the neuronal processes of Drosophila melanogaster has allowed the identification of genes that are required for injury responses. Screens in Drosophila have identified dsarm and highwire as two genes required for axon degeneration; when these genes are mutated axons fail to degenerate after injury, even when completely cut off from the neuronal cell body. We found that these genes are also required for dendrite degeneration after injury in vivo. Further, we reveal differences between axon and dendrite injury responses using in vivo timelapse recordings and GCaMP indicators of intracellular and mitochondrial calcium transients. These data provide insights into the neuronal responses to injury, and better define novel targets for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.



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