Egle Beigaite

Characterising a novel candidate gene regulating ageing related atrophy in neurons

About me

Eglė completed her Molecular and Cellular Biology degree at the University of Glasgow. During her undergraduate degree, Eglė worked at LMU in Prof Imhof’s lab characterising hybrid incompatibility protein complexes in Drosophila melanogaster, which was sponsored by pharmaceutical company Amgen.  She wrote her honours thesis on the agonistic and antagonistic effects of synthetic CAPA peptide analogues to develop new generation pesticides. After graduation, she worked as a research technician at Prof Amtmann’s laboratory, with a project focusing on analysing epigenetic changes during root development in Arabidopsis thaliana. From 2018, Eglė has started her PhD project aimed at characterising a new transmembrane protein linked with Frontotemporal dementia phenotype in Drosophila melanogaster in Dr Sweeney’s lab.

My Project

What is frontotemporal dementia?

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is one of the progressive early onset disorders, mostly affecting frontal and temporal lobes. Like Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), FTD is a genetically, clinically and pathogenically heterogeneous spectrum disorder. These conditions share mutations in the same loci. Moreover, symptoms of both conditions can appear in individual patients further suggesting a pathological spectrum termed FTD-ALS. Given this similarity, ALS and FTD are likely to share signalling pathways associated with neurodegeneration

 How is endocytotic trafficking involved in FTD development?

My honours project has inspired me to focus on transmembrane proteins in Drosophila melanogaster neurobiology. In Dr Sweeney’s lab, we focus on understanding new signalling pathways which contribute to Frontotemporal dementia development.  TMEM184B protein has been initially identified as an enhancer of frontotemporal dementia phenotype caused by CHMP2BIntron5 mutation in Drosophila eye screen. In mice, it is known to play a critical role in axonal degeneration and endocytotic traffic. My goal is to investigate the molecular function of this transmembrane protein and identify signalling events linked with aging and cell death using Drosophila and mammalian cell lines. Due to its conservation and molecular structure, it is a promising target for the development of FTD therapeutics.