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John M. Warrick’s Lab

In my lab we study a human inherited brain degeneration disease. Machado-Joseph Disease (MJD) also known as Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3 (SCA3) is in the same family of Polyglutamine Diseases as other diseases like Huntington’s Disease and Kennedy’s Disease.  To study the disease we have flies that express either the normal form of the gene, ATX3, or a mutant form that causes the disease.  We are trying to find out why the protein from the mutant gene is toxic and kills brain cells.  Additionally, we are looking for genetic and molecular mechanisms that may be used to slow down or stop the disease progression.  Because flies and humans are so similar at the molecular and genetic level, we hope the discoveries we make will be able to be translated in human therapies and cures.  Along the way we are learning a lot about how neurons function at the genetic and molecular level.

Current Projects

  • Do full length polyglutamine proteins induce the expression of chaperones?
  • Does loss or inactivation of the transcriptional regulator CREB Binding Protein have a role in disease pathology?
  • How does the compliment of proteins expressed in the brain, or brain proteome, of flies without the disease compare to the brains of flies with the disease?
  • Do oxidative stress and free radicals have a role in MJD pathology?

Current Lab Members

Hersh Gupta, '09
Kristen Qutub, '11
Drew Simmelink, '11
Sarah Porter, '12
Steve Richards, '12