Elucidating the ESRE Stress Response Network

Justis, Anna
The ethanol and stress response element (ESRE) network in Caenorhabditis elegans regulates stress-induced gene expression. The ESRE network is highly conserved and is involved in responding to a variety of environmental stresses. The ESRE motif is predicted to be the binding site of an unknown transcription factor, termed the ESRE-binding protein (EBP). This project aims to identify the EBP and other potential ESRE regulatory molecules using a combined approach of RNAi and mutational genetic screens. The RNAi screen consisted of knocking down known transcription factors and signaling molecules in C. elegans and looking for a subsequent decrease in an ESRE-dependent fluorescence reporter signal, indicating interference with the ESRE stress response. The mutational screen consisted of inducing random mutations in the genome and looking for a change in the expression of ESRE-dependent fluorescence reporters. This screen resulted in gain-of-function mutations that cause constitutive expression of ESRE genes as well as loss-of-function mutations that cause a reduced ESRE response after induction of stress. Further analysis of the selected candidates may reveal the identity of members of the ESRE regulatory network.
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