Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type



Life & Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Marilyn Schendel

Second Advisor

Sam Alvey

Third Advisor

D. William Provance, Jr.


Molecular motors are cellular enzymes that convert chemical energy into mechanical energy and are vital to cellular organization and function. The focus of the following research is Myosin Va, a molecular motor whose activity contributes to melanosome distribution in melanocytes. A mutation within myosin Va leads to the dilute coat-color phenotype in mice and some cases of Griscelli’s syndrome in humans. The main goal of this research was to create a chimeric myosin V, with portions of both myosin Va and Vb. This chimeric myosin was then transfected into dilute melanocytes to see if the normal distribution ofmelanosomes was restored. The results with this construct were compared to an old construct of the chimeric myosin V. Distribution of the melanosomes within the cell was monitored via bright field of the expression from the construct by immunofluorescence.