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Degree Name

Master of Science


Human and Molecular Genetics

First Advisor

Mike Grotewiel


Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a global health issue that affects millions of people every year. This disorder has serious negative mental and physical consequences. Currently, treatment options for this disorder are largely limited to psychological therapy, with very few medications available to treat it. Being able to identify the environmental and genetic components that influence AUD can help improve diagnosis and treatment options. Previous studies in humans have shown a link between initial sensitivity and risk for alcohol abuse. Our laboratory uses Drosophila melanogaster as a model to study the genetic and environmental components of alcohol-related behaviors. Previous lab members found that the transcription factor Mef2, the Drosophila ortholog to the MEF2B gene in humans, has a significant role in ethanol sedation in flies. We consequently predicted that genes regulated or bound by Mef2 in flies may also have a significant impact on ethanol sedation. Initial analysis of several candidate genes revealed that transposon insertions and neuronal RNA interference (RNAi) against spinster (spin) altered ethanol sedation. These genetic analyses, in combination with published data, support the hypothesis that spin influences ethanol sedation and does so by functioning downstream of Mef2.


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