Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Genetics

First Advisor

Dr. Jill Bettinger

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrew Davies

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura Mathies

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Rita Shiang


Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the fourth leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability, globally. There are currently very few treatment options for AUD and there is a need for effective preventive and treatment strategies for this condition. AUD risk has a significant hereditary component, with the contribution of genetic factors being estimated to be about 50%. The Davies-Bettinger laboratory uses C. elegans as a model organism to study the contribution of genetic factors in modulating neuronal responses to ethanol. In this project, we examined the role of mitochondrial beta-oxidation of fatty acids (FA) in altering ethanol responses using loss-of-function (lf) mutants and RNAi-mediated knockdown of specific genes in this pathway. We tested a total of 34 genes and found that lf in 13 genes significantly affected ethanol response phenotypes. We conclude that mitochondrial beta-oxidation of FA is essential for ethanol response behavior in C. elegans. Further experiments need to be conducted to dissect the specific contribution of various components of mitochondrial beta-oxidation in modifying the neuronal responses to ethanol.


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