Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biology



Faculty Advisor(s)

Catherine Reinke

Subject Categories

Biochemistry | Biology | Cell Biology | Dermatology | Genetics and Genomics | Molecular Biology | Oncology


Within pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes, the transcription factor MITF is intimately involved in regulating genes associated with cell cycle maintenance and melanocyte differentiation. Research, however, has provided conflicting results on the relationship between the expression levels of MITF and melanocyte cell fate. To complicate matters, two splice variants of MITF exist, differing by only 18 base pairs. These variants have been observed at variable levels of expression in melanocyte and melanoma cells, raising the question as to their functional purpose. Building upon previous research by the Leachman/Cassidy lab that identified the redox sensitivity of MITF while additionally establishing a novel relationship between the antioxidant selenoprotein Thioredoxin Reductase 1 (TR1) and pigment synthesis, this work seeks to examine the redox sensitivity and function of the MITF splice variants.