Faculty Advisor

Ronald Cheetham

Faculty Advisor

David Adams

Faculty Advisor

Daniel Gibson




ABSTRACT This thesis was divided into two parts. The purpose of part I was to clone and sequence the full-length ependymin gene from the invertebrate Limulus polyphemus, or portions of the gene, and to use RT-PCR to determine whether expression of this gene increases during leg regeneration. PCR was chosen as the method for obtaining the gene due to the success our lab had previously characterizing several ependymin genes using this approach. Three sets of primers were designed based on the conserved domains between teleost fish and three invertebrate ependymin sequences. “Sea primers" were designed based on the nucleotide sequence of the sea cucumber H. glaberrima for each conserved domain, and these primers produced all four of the expected size amplicons with Limulus DNA, but surprisingly only one such band with the sea cucumber Sclerodactyla briareus. The consensus primers (con-primers) were designed based on the most conserved nucleotide among all known ependymin species at each particular position in the conserved domains. Primers designated“5-11 primers" were designed based on the absolutely conserved domains among the three known invertebrate ependymins. Neither con-primers nor 5-11 primers produced any bands of the expected size; this was true for both species of DNA. One very strong band was produced using“5-11" primer pair 6/10 with both species. One of the bands from this reaction from Limulus was cloned and sequenced, and showed a very strong homology (88% over 292 bp) with mouse FGF-14, a neurotrophic factor involved in mouse neurogenesis. The expression of this gene during leg regeneration will be tested in future experiments. Limulus GAPDH was also cloned and sequenced, and a genomic intron was identified for the first time in this study. This Limulus housekeeping gene will be used in future studies for gene expression comparisons. The purpose of part two of this thesis was to study the up-regulation of growth-related genes induced by treatment of a human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line with a human ependymin peptide mimetic (hEPN-1), in an attempt to help provide a basis for using human EPN mimetics as therapeutics in stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. The sequence of this mimetic is derived from an area of human MERP-1 analogous to goldfish mimetic CMX-8933. The human mimetic was previously found to up-regulate growth related genes L-19, EF-2 and ATP Synthase in the mouse neuroblastoma cell line Nb2a (Saif, 2004). The expression levels of genes encoding ribosomal proteins and ribosomal RNA were studied using RT-PCR as hallmarks of proliferating cells. hEPN-1 was found to increase the expression of the nuclear-encoded ribosomal proteins S-19 and S-12, an average of 2.76 fold and 1.74 fold, with statistically significant p-values of 0.031 and 0.015 (<0.05), respectively. The expression levels of nuclear-encoded 5.8S ribosomal RNA (p = 0.018) and the mitochondrial-encoded 16S RNA (p = 0.046) were found to be increased an average of 14.04 fold and 3.91 fold, respectively. Thus, human ependymin mimetic hEPN-1 appears to stimulate growth-related genes, a property which can be useful to regenerate neuronal tissue after injury.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Biology & Biotechnology

Project Type


Date Accepted





neuroblastoma, SHSY, Ependymin, Limulus, Molecular cloning, Limulus polyphemus, Neurotropic functions, Gene expression, Growth factors