The Effect of Alcohol on PFK1 Gene Expression and Feeding Activity in Tetrahymena thermophila
The purpose of this experiment was to test whether alcohol induces starvation conditions in Tetrahymena thermophila. Prior research has shown that exposure to alcohol results in decreases in both the frequency of feeding and overall growth. For this experiment, it was hypothesized that these effects are due to a lack of energy available in the organism for feeding. This hypothesis was tested by monitoring food vacuole formation and expression of the PFK-1 gene in Tetrahymena that were exposed to alcohol. The PFK-1 gene was chosen because its encoded protein plays an essential role in cellular metabolism. For the experiment, control and experimental cultures of Tetrahymena themophila maintained in a nutrient rich media with the media of the experimental group being supplemented with 1.75% ethanol. The production of food vacuoles was monitored using India ink over a course of 24 hours following the addition of alcohol. After 24 hours, RNA was extracted from the Tetrahymena and Reverse Transcription -Polymerase Chain Reactions (RT-PCRs) were performed to determine the expression of the PFK-1 gene. Because alcohol has been shown to have an effect on membrane composition and fluidity, it was predicted that alcohol would cause Tetrahymena themophila to starve by reducing its ability to produce food vacuoles. Furthermore, it was predicted that the inability of Tetrahymena to produce food vacuoles in the presence of alcohol would lead to a reduction in the expression of PFK-1.