Supervisor's Name: Evan Balaban
Supervisor's Email: evan.balaban [at] mcgill.ca
Supervisor's Phone: 514-398-4234
Supervisor's department: Psychology
Course number: NSCI 396 (Neuroscience)
Term: Fall 2013-2014
Project start date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Project end date: Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Project title: Heme oxygenase 2 as an oxygen sensor in the chick embryo brain
Project description (50-100 words suggested): Despite the conventional wisdom that oxygen chemoreception is limited to peripheral chemoreceptors of the carotid and aortic bodies, recent evidence has emerged in support of central oxygen chemoreception in the C1 sympatho-excitatory region, the pre-Botzinger complex, the nucleus of the solitary tract and the caudal hypothalamus. The biochemical mechanisms of oxygen level sensing have not been fully elucidated. A leading hypothesis is that oxygen perception involves a heme-type protein. One such protein is heme oxygenase 2 (HO-2). Studies in rats have shown that HO-2 is expressed in the C1 region and pre-Botzinger complex, and is necessary for the hypoxic excitation of these medullary neurons. As a result of hypoxia, HO-2 would generate CO which could directly and/or indirectly cause membrane depolarization by regulating membrane ion channels. The location and role of central oxygen sensing areas in embryo brains are unknown. The student will use immunohistochemical labelling for HO-2 to identify oxygen sensing areas in the chick embryo brain. Fluorescent double labelling experiments for heme oxygenase and c-Fos will be carried out in at least one of these areas in chick embryos exposed to normoxia and hypoxia. Induction of Fos expression as a result of hypoxia will support the theory of HO-2 as oxygen sensor also in the chick embryo central nervous system.
Prerequisite: 1 term completed at McGill + CGPA of 3.0 or higher; or permission of instructor.
Grading scheme (The final report must be worth at least 50% of final grade): Final grade shall be based on an evaluation of laboratory performance (50%) and final written report (50%) by the supervisor.
Project status: This project is taken; however students may contact the professor to discuss other possible '396' projects this term.
How students can apply: Bring a printed copy of this application form and your advising transcript to me during office hours.
Ethics, safety, and training: Supervisors are responsible for the ethics and safety compliance of undergraduate students. This project involves handling chemicals.