The heavy metal content in Helena freshwater sources and its effects on IFT122 expression, cell motility, and viability of Tetrahymena thermophila

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Authors
Bourekis, Kiki
Ward, Michael
Advisor
Otto-Hitt, Stefanie
Editor
Date of Issue
2023-04-28
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Title
The heavy metal content in Helena freshwater sources and its effects on IFT122 expression, cell motility, and viability of Tetrahymena thermophila
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Presentation
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Abstract
Throughout its history, Montana has been known for its mining operations, most prominently for silver, lead and copper. Heavy metal runoff from these mines has contaminated freshwater sources across the state, and these heavy metals are known to be carcinogenic and mutagenic, increasing both oxidative stress and cell damage in organisms. For this research study, we investigated how heavy metals within freshwater sources around Helena influenced motility and viability of the model organism, Tetrahymena thermophila. We hypothesized that Helena freshwater sources containing heavy metals would alter IFT122 expression, as well as motility, cilia regeneration, and cell growth. The IFT122 gene encodes the Intraflagellar Transport Protein, which plays an essential role in returning IFT proteins from the ciliary tip to the cell body during ciliary regeneration. To test our hypothesis, T. thermophila were cultured for 48 hours either in store bought spring water or in freshwater samples from Prickly Pear Creek, Silver Creek, or Ten Mile Creek. During the 48-hour exposure, T. thermophila growth was monitored for all groups using a cell count assay. At the end of the treatment period, motility and deciliation assays were performed to analyze ciliary function and Reverse Transcription -quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) was performed to measure IFT122 expression. Given the harmful impacts of heavy metal exposure on cell function, it was predicted that T. thermophila cultured in freshwater samples from around Helena would exhibit decreased IFT122 expression along with reduced cell viability and motility when compared to contaminated water due to the disruption of ciliary function by these heavy metals.
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Semester
Spring
Department
Biology