Class Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department or Program


First Advisor

Ann Maine

Second Advisor

Karen Kirk

Third Advisor

Nathan Mueggenburg


Parkinson's disease is a non-treatable neurological disorder that can lead to an inability to control one’s own muscles, causing rigidness and lack of movement. α-Synuclein is a protein that has been found in aggregate forms in PD patients and seems to bind to synaptic vesicle membranes and aid in vesicle transporting. This research focuses on the effect that over-expressed forms of α-synuclein have on presynaptic terminals of C. elegans. To examine this relationship we constructed transgenic animals expressing α-synuclein throughout the nervous system of wild type C. elegans. The α-synuclein strain had disruption of the puncta along the axon compared to non over-expressed α-synuclein strain, suggesting that the disruption taking place in the synaptic terminals is caused by the presence of α-synuclein. Such disruption in active zone organization causes a loss of neuron signaling, resulting in symptoms similar to those observed in Parkinson's disease patients.