Carnegie Mellon University
NFrey_PhD_Bio_2023.pdf (13.41 MB)

Investigating Calcium Dynamics and Hypoxia in Drosophila Embryos Through Microfluidics

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posted on 2023-10-20, 20:05 authored by Nolan FreyNolan Frey

Embryogenesis, the stage when diverse cell types emerge and an organism's body plan takes form, exemplifies the complexity of biology. In this study, we aimed to investigate how two stimuli, mechanical stress and hypoxia, influence Drosophila embryos to better understand this intricate developmental process. Recognizing that the tools available shape the questions researchers can explore, we begin by describing advances in microfluidics technologies which enable novel experimental approaches to study model organisms. Next, we examine recent evidence related to calcium signaling and the role of mechanosensitive ion channels in morphogenesis to motivate further investigation in this field. Our research uncovers and characterizes dynamic patterns of calcium spiking prevalent during early embryo morphogenesis. Moreover, we observe that loss of the mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo in the early embryo induces significant proteomic changes. Separately, in experiments designed to control for the environment within our microfluidics device, we discovered that crowding of embryos induces responses similar to hypoxia. Proteomic characterization of this response to both hypoxia and crowding identified several canonical hypoxia-responsive proteins in addition to key cytoskeletal regulators. Collectively, these findings emphasize the sensitivity of embryonic cells to diverse stimuli, enriching our understanding of developmental biology. Future research aims to understand how calcium dynamics and the responses to mechanical and hypoxic stimulation contribute to embryogenesis. 




Degree Type

  • Dissertation


  • Biological Sciences

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Jonathan S. Minden, Philip R. LeDuc

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