Journal of Undergraduate Research


genes, diet, gut microbiome, obesity, diabetes


Life Sciences


Microbiology and Molecular Biology


This project began as a collaboration with Dr. Julianne Grose in MMBIO to study the effect of PAS kinase on diabetes and obesity in a mouse model system. Due to our initial findings, the study has grown to include Dr. Ben Bickman in PDBIO (an expert in metabolism) and Dr. Scott Weber in MMBIO (an immunologist). We have found that PAS kinase knockout mice have an increased metabolic rate—not only in their overall system but also specifically in skeletal muscle. Metabolic rate can have a profound influence on the immune system, so we began working with Dr. Weber to measure the types of immune cells present in wild type vs. PAS kinase knockout mice. These experiments revealed a shortage of macrophages in the PAS kinase mutants. We have also found that PAS kinase plays a role in cell cycle progression and phase distribution, suggesting a potential role in cancer. Interestingly, we found that the increased metabolic rate in PAS kinase mutant mice does not produce a lower overall body weight when mice consume a high fat/high sugar diet. This observation suggests that mutation of PAS kinase may alter the ratio of lean muscle to adipose tissue, a hypothesis that we will shortly begin testing using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). IACUC approval to perform MRI scans on the mice from this project was recently obtained. The gut microbiota portion of the project is still underway, because of the way that metagenomic next generation sequencing is performed.

Included in

Microbiology Commons