Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Hebe Guardiola-Diaz

Second Advisor

Sarah Raskin

Third Advisor

William Church


Oligodendrocytes (OLs) are a type of glial cell in the central nervous system that require substantial nutrients such as lipids and amino acids to create the extensive, metabolically expensive myelin sheath surrounding the axons of neurons. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a regulatory kinase that is necessary for the maturation of progenitor OLs through their distinct oligo-lineage phases. Amino acids are vital for the functioning of cells. The focus of this study was to determine if mTOR activity is dependent on the availability of leucine, methionine, and alanine. This was assessed by examining the phosphorylation level of the downstream targets of mTOR, specifically S6K, through western blot analysis. The changes in phosphorylation of S6K will be indicative of the effect of amino acids on mTOR activity because mTOR is the only kinase that phosphorylates this protein. The results showed an increase in phosphorylation upon stimulation with leucine after a 22-hour silencing period, indicating that mTOR activity is dependent on the presence of extracellular leucine in oligo-lineage cells.


Senior Thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience.