Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Min Han

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Martin

Third Advisor

Dr. Dylan Taatjes


Developmental robustness and redundancy are properties of biological systems that facilitate adaptation and survival in stressful environments. Through use of novel screens for synthetic phenotypes, we have elucidated a fascinating interaction between miRNAs and Vigilin, an RNA binding protein predicted to have a variety of different cellular functions within development. Synthetic screening indicates that mir-52, mir-59, mir-83, mir-254, and mir-265 all interact redundantly with Vigilin to modulate larval progression. Computational analysis and further RNAi testing yielded a list of potential downstream targets that these miRNAs might regulate to control development in a complex and robust manner. RT-qPCR and genetics will be used to study these potential targets to provide further insight into the interactions between miRNAs and Vigilin with the overarching goal of gaining a better understanding of development within C. elegans.