Rm: 2512 Bioscience Complex
Tel: (613) 533-6769
Faculty Web Site: http://www.queensu.ca/biology/people/faculty/seroude.html
Lab Web Site:
RESEARCH AREA/POTENTIAL PROJECTS
The research in our group uses genetics to dissect the molecular changes associated with aging and identify genes influencing how we age. The general strategy is to use Drosophila as a model system in which to identify and isolate genes homologous to humans, using the fly for experimental analysis of their basic functions. The laboratory is the sole in Canada entirely dedicated to understand how and why we age using a model organism whose genes can easily be manipulated. Understanding aging is the only hope to develop interventions to prevent the impairments (such as locomotion or mental impairments) and diseases (such as cancer or Alzheimer's disease) associated with aging.
Project 1: Apoptosis is a genetically controlled cell death process essential for development and homeostasis by removing unwanted, damaged or harmful cells. The critical role of apoptosis in tissue homeostasis may have significant implications during aging. In post-mitotic tissues, apoptosis increases with age. Because aging is also associated with cell losses, apoptosis may account for the age-related impairments such as the decline of brain functions or the progressive loss of muscle mass and strength (Sarcopenia). Although a causal link between aging and apoptosis presents an attractive hypothesis, a mechanistic relationship between these processes remains to be demonstrated. A genetic model organism such as Drosophila provides a unique opportunity to address this issue. It shares with mammals the molecular components regulating or executing apoptosis. We have shown that genes encoding critical components of the apoptotic machinery are expressed in adult flies during aging (PNAS 102, 12083, 2005). We have also shown that under normal conditions fly aging is coupled with increased apoptosis within muscle cells comparable to what is observed in mammals. This project will examine which components of the apoptotic machinery are acting in aging muscles.
Project 2: The association between aging and a decline of mental functions sparked our interest in the understanding of mental disorders in general. The molecular dissection of the mode of action of antipsychotics is an effective method to find abnormalities that are the root cause behind the symptoms displayed by various mental disorders such as schizophrenia or dementia. We use the Drosophila melanogaster model organism and the power of its molecular genetics to study the molecular mechanisms underlying the response to the antipsychotic haloperidol and ultimately gain a greater understanding of mental disorders. We have isolated mutations that change the fly's response to Haloperidol. This project will determine which gene(s) is affected by those mutations.