Date of Completion

Spring 5-10-2009

Thesis Advisor(s)

David Knecht

Honors Major

Cell Biology


Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Life Sciences | Molecular Biology


Raf Kinase Inhibitor Protein (RKIP) has been identified as a phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein capable of inhibiting Raf-1 kinase, an enzyme significant in cell proliferation and cancer development. When properly functioning, RKIP can mediate the expression of Raf-1 kinase and help prevent uncontrolled cell division. RKIP also has suggested, but unclear, roles in spindle fiber formation during mitosis, regulation of apoptosis, and cell motility. The Fenteany laboratory in the Chemistry Department identified a new small molecule, named Locostatin, as a cell migration inhibitor in mammalian cells, with RKIP as its primary molecular target.

Dictyostelium discoideum possess two RKIP proteins, RKIP-A and RKIP-B. In order to begin to study the function of RKIP in D. discoideum and its role in cell motility, I created a mutant cell line which lacks a functional RKIP-A gene. In this paper, we show that removal of RKIP-A does not affect vegetative motility, but impairs chemotaxis and development in the presence of drug. Interestingly, RKIP-A knockout mutants appear more resistant to drug effects on vegetative motility than wild-type cells.

More research is needed to reconcile these seemingly contrasting results, and to better develop a model for RKIP-A’s role in cell motility.