Aleija Rodriguez — Senior, BCN Honors

The focus of my thesis is how ubiquilin-2, a protein clearance pathway protein, regulates tau, a protein normally tasked with cell stabilization. Tau aggregates in vivo, resulting in tauopathies like Alzheimer’s disease. My goal is to understand how modifying levels of ubiquilin-2 impacts tau proliferation using Western blot, immunofluorescence, and dot blot techniques. I am currently compiling figures based on some of the interesting biochemical data I have observed between ubiquilin-2 and tau. For example, under some conditions, ubiquilin-2 lowers tau levels, but in vivo, it exacerbates tau toxicity in a mutant tau mouse model. I have completed my work in Dr. Henry Paulson's lab in the Michigan Medicine Department of Neurology with the help of my research mentor, Dr. Julia Gerson, in addition to receiving guidance from my Psychology Department research mentor, Dr. Laura Zahodne. The primary goal as I move forward in completing my thesis is to clearly outline the relevance of our findings and provide robust conclusions that seek not only to explain our results, but propose future areas of interest regarding potential mechanisms for ubiquilin-2's divergent effect on tau.