Lauren Guerrero Silva (email@example.com)
Proopiomelanocortin (Pomc) is a gene expressed primarily in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of the hypothalamus. The products of this gene include melanocyte stimulating hormone, adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), and beta-endorphin. Alpha-MSH is involved in both sexual behavior and appetite regulation. ACTH is a peptide hormone that plays a role in glucocorticoid secretion from the adrenal cortex, and beta-endorphin is an opioid peptide that is closely linked to pain management and reward signaling. This makes Pomc a powerful influence on overall health, particularly in relation to body weight and fertility. Mutations in the Pomc gene result in significant deficiency of Pomc expression. In humans, this translates to extreme hyperphagia, early onset (and extreme) obesity, hypocortisolism, light skin, and red hair pigmentation. It also seems to affect pubertal development. Several of these effects are also apparent in a mouse model of Pomc-deficiency. We are interested in using this mouse model to help us determine the cause for the observed infertility experienced by Pomc-deficient mice, and potentially Pomc-deficient individuals as well. We plan to specifically evaluate the differences between wild-type (control) mice and affected POMC-deficient mice in precursor sexual behavior, libido, adherence to copulatory norms, and ultrasonic communication. We will capture both video and audio recording of the sexual behavior interactions between Pomc-deficient male mice with wildtype female mice, as well as with Pomc-deficient female mice with wildtype male mice. We will compare these recordings to the interactions observed between male and female wildtype mice. These results will help us to understand whether Pomc-deficient exhibit normal sexual behavior, and how that may affect their reproductive success. This will also help us learn more about the relationship between Pomc expression and overall reproductive function that may exist in humans as well.
University / Institution: Utah Valley University
Format: In Person
SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Area of Research: Health & Medicine
Faculty Mentor: Zoe Thompson