Thermoregulation Part III: The Cytoskeleton

To recap my previous blogs, my project over the summer was an attempt to find a way to fluorescently stain the neurons that we record from in the lab.  The issues that we ran into were that it was very difficult to create a stain that would allow us to record from a live cell that was also stable enough to last through the fixation process.  After doing some research on possible ways to stain neurons, I finally decided that the best way to solve our problem was to attempt to stain the cytoskeleton.

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Thermoregulation Part II: The New plan

As I stated in my previous blog, my new project idea came about when I was trying to determine a new way to study the differences between warm-sensitive and temperature-insensitive neurons.  It turns out that the answer had been right in front of me the whole time.  During the beginning of the summer, my professor had been talking with students from Dr. Saha’s lab about the possibility of performing fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on our tissue.  FISH is a procedure that is used to determine whether certain genes are being expressed in cells.  It uses a fluorescent probe that binds to a specific mRNA sequence.  If the mRNA sequence is present in the cell, the probe will attach and we will be able to see the cell fluoresce.  As a result FISH is an invaluable way to determine the differences in gene expression between cells.

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Thermoregulation part I

Originally, I had planned to simply do general research on thermoregulation on the hypothalamus.  As the sumer progressed, however, my research interests narrowed significantly and a new project began to form.  As a result, instead of discussing all of the general aspects of thermoregulation and the hypothalamus, I will discuss my new project in depth.  For my first blog, I will start with a basic overview of thermoregulation and how we study it.

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Thermoregulation Review

Thermoregulation is an incredibly important aspect of the human body.  It is what allows people to live in a wide variety of climates, ranging from subzero arctic regions to tropical rainforests.  The hypothalamus is the part of the body that is primarily associated with thermoregulation.  The hypothalamus is located near the middle of the brain, and it is responsible for maintaining proper body temperatures.  The hypothalamus is also instrumental in eliciting fever response.  Fevers are an extremely important feature of the human immune response that improves the body’s ability to fight infection.  The exact mechanisms that regulate fever response, however, are not fully understood, making fever induction an major area of research.  My project will focus on reviewing all of the current knowledge concerning the hypothalamus, thermoregulation, and fever-induction.  The project will consist primarily of researching the hypothalamus, and by the end of the summer I will compile all of this knowledge into a review paper.