Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

James P. Bennett Jr. M.D., Ph.D.


MITOCHONDRIAL GENE EXPRESSION IN HUMAN MONONUCLEAR CELLS By Monika D. Ruchała, M.S. A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science at Virginia Commonwealth University. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2014. Director: Dr. James P. Bennett Jr, M.D., Ph.D., Bemiss Professor Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry and Physiology and Biophysics Adult neurodegenerative disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), have been intensively studied in recent years in pursuit of mechanisms responsible for origin and progression. One emerging theme is mitochondrial energetic deficiency as a mechanism of neuronal death. Recent descriptions of protocols to generate induced pluripotent stems cells (iPSCs) from living patients offer the potential to create unique disease models. This model can potentially lead to crucial advances in developing treatment options for a wide variety of neurodegenerative diseases. In this thesis, we attempt to induce iPSCs from mononuclear cells (MNC) in peripheral blood acquired from patients with ALS and healthy control (CTL) subjects, and analyze their mitochondrial genomes. The reprogramming of MNC to yield iPSC was done by nucleofection of an episomal plasmid pEB­ C5, expressing OriP sequences of the Epstein­Barr and five reprogramming transgenes Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, c­Myc and Lin28. We investigated the expression of mitochondrial DNA genes, ND2, ND4, COXIII and 12s rRNA in the ALS and CTL MNC before and after their culturing. The results implicate deregulated mitochondrial bioenergetics as a characteristic of ALS. Future work will establish whether these abnormalities in mitochondrial bioenergetics persist in iPSC’s and iPSC-derived neurons from ALS subject


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