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Michigan State UniversityBreedlove Jordan lab at MSU

Jessica Poort

Jessica Poort

I graduated from Michigan State University in 2006 with degrees in Human Biology and Zoology. As an undergraduate, I was very interested in sexual dimorphisms, which is what originally attracted me to this lab. Once I joined, my interests shifted to neuromuscular disease and the changes that occur as the phenotype develops. I very much enjoy the green environment on campus and like spending time outside skiing, gardening and camping. I also spend time cooking, baking, doing yoga and going to spinning classes.

I've been in the lab for six years and have worked on quite a few different projects including characterizing the effects of knocking out BDNF from muscle, the expression of the cofactor SRC-1 in muscle, and changes to axonal transport due to disease. For my thesis work, I am examining the changes occurring at the neuromuscular junction in our models of Kennedy's Disease.

Our lab developed a murine model that overexpresses the androgen receptor exclusively in skeletal muscle. This model demonstrates a phenotype consistent with Kennedy's Disease, traditionally thought of as a neurogenic disease. Because the genetic manipulations have only be done in skeletal muscle, this model indicates there are strong myogenic components of the disease as well. The implication of muscle in the development of Kennedy's Disease suggests that important changes are also happening at the neuromuscular junction. It is likely that a decrease in muscular neurotrophic factors affects the targeting and morphology of the junction on the muscle. Despite the extensive characterization of changes to the muscle and motoneuron morphology during the progression of Kennedy's Disease, what happens to the neuromuscular junction is largely unexplored.