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Terry Yin

Mentor: Michael Welsh, M.D.
Lab Room: 500 EMRB
Lab Phone: 319-335-6540

Physiological function of Smoothened in Airway

Cilia are fingerlike organelles that project from the surface of cells. There are two types of cilia, primary cilia, thought to have sensory role and motile cilia, actively beating and not thought to have any sensory mechanisms. Primary cilia are present on every cell during early development where they are thought to initiate differentiation of cells. Recent studies have demonstrated that primary cilia may serve as a center for signaling. One of the pathways associated with primary cilia is the sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling cascade. It has been shown by electron microscopy that human airway epithelium (HAE) contain "non-sensory" motile cilia. However recent findings in our lab present evidence that goes against the paradigm that motile cilia contain sensory functions. One of the findings identifies a variety of bitter taste receptors localized to the cilia. When the HAE is stimulated with a bitter compound, the cilia have increased beat frequency and also an efflux of calcium for signaling. Our second finding that supports a sensory role of motile cilia in HAE is from immuno staining images of genes involved in the canonical Shh signaling cascade. The marker for cilia, acetylated tubulin, is fluoresced in green, and Smo, the activator of the Shh pathway, is stained in red. Punctate staining of Smo localizes to the motile cilia in HAE. My research in this lab is to identify the sensory and physiological role of Shh in HAE. I will go about this by determining the physiological response of Smo activation by infecting a reporter driven by Smo activation and determine which genes are regulated by Smo by measuring a variety of transcript in HAE.