Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Pierre D. McCrea, PhD

Committee Member

M. Neal Waxham, PhD

Committee Member

Mark T. Bedford, PhD

Committee Member

George T. Eisenhoffer, PhD

Committee Member

Michael J. Galko, PhD


Proper dendrite morphology is essential for neuronal connectivity and function, and abnormal dendrite morphology is seen in many neurological pathologies. This study characterizes and compares the effects of a group of four proteins – the p120-catenin subfamily – that regulate cytoskeletal remodeling and dendrite morphology. To do this, I tracked the endogenous localization of each p120-subfamily catenin during neuron development, and I determined how altering the expression of each p120-subfamily catenin affects dendrite morphology. I find that all catenins are expressed in dendritic processes and the soma, ARVCF-catenin is expressed at relatively high proportions in the nucleus, and p120-catenin and delta-catenin are expressed at relatively higher proportions in growth cones compared to ARVCF-catenin and p0071-catenin. We find that overexpressing p120-catenin and delta-catenin causes increased dendritic length and branching, and their depletion decreases dendritic length and branching. Furthermore, while increasing ARVCF-catenin expression increases dendritic length and branching, decreasing expression does not result in observable morphological changes. Lastly, increasing p0071-catenin expression increases dendritic branching, but not length, while decreasing p0071-catenin expression decreases dendritic length and branching. The distinct localization patterns and morphological effects of the p120-subfamily catenins during neuron development suggest that they have some shared and some distinct roles during dendrite development.


catenin, neuron, dendrite morphology, p120-catenin

Available for download on Tuesday, April 23, 2024