Time Flies: An analysis of circadian impact upon cell cycle regulation using Boolean modeling and a Drosophila model
Name: Emma Davidson
Advisors: Erzsebet Regan, Seth Kelly
The circadian system is an incredibly conserved physiological component of nearly all living organisms and is most well-known for its behavioral output of controlling our sleep and wakefulness cycles. In addition to taking charge as the system that tells you when to sleep, the circadian system controls many hormonal cascades and physiological fluctuations on a daily basis. The further we look, the more we seem to find that the circadian system has influence over, with recent findings suggesting that circadian dysfunction may be implicated in cancer proliferation. Since cancer in the most basic of terms is caused by unregulated cellular division, to further examine the connection between the circadian system and cancer, we investigated the molecular level connections between the circadian system and the cell cycle. We created a Boolean computational model of the circadian system and begun linking it to an existing model of the cell cycle, while also completing experiments using a Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) model organism. Cell count analysis revealed that mutant flies with elongated circadian periods have a fewer number of cells in fully developed wing tissues, suggesting that a slowed circadian system also slows cell division. Modeling endeavors also suggest the circadian system can pause the cell cycle, or cause reduplication of genetic material without cellular division. These findings indicate that the circadian system has the ability to influence the cell cycle, though further work should be completed to elucidate how this occurs in the organism.
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