Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Gilkerson

Second Advisor

Dr. Megan Keniry

Third Advisor

Dr. Debasish Bandyopadhyay


Mitochondria exist as an organellar network within most eukaryotic organisms, and are critical to biochemical energy production and cellular stress response. Mitochondrial bioenergetic function is directly linked to the complex morphological state of its network, existing in a balance of fusion (interconnected state) or fission (fragmented state). The optic atrophy-1 (OPA1) protein plays a major role in regulating mitochondrial inner membrane fusion, whereas the OMA1 metallopeptidase is highly involved in the degradation of the OPA1 protein, thus contributing to its fragmented state. Cellular stress such as a disruption in mitochondrial membrane potential activates OMA1 cleavage of OPA1. However, our data indicates membrane potential disruption with CCCP after cardiac-like differentiation with Retinoic Acid (RA) in H9c2 cardiomyoblast cell lines activate OMA1, suggesting a developmental switch for OPA1 cleavage. To test whether the activation of OMA1 is RA specific, skeletal muscle-like differentiation (with low serum media lacking RA) upon challenge with CCCP will be used to observe if OPA1 cleavage by OMA1 occurs. We hypothesize that differentiation in H9c2s by FBS will activate OMA1.


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