Project: Research project

Project Details


The aim of the research is to understand how cell-cell interactions
regulate the formation of a critical cell type in the developing retina.

Cell-cell interactions mediated by extracellular factors play a major role
in the determination of cell type during development. They are the main
factor in cell determination in both vertebrate and Drosophila retina.
Drosophila can be studied by identifying genes through mutations that
affect development, and characterizing how the genes function through
developmental and molecular studies. Therefore the determination of R8
photoreceptor cells in Drosophila retina will be studied as a model to
understand mechanisms of cell-cell interaction. In this system the
behavior of individual calls can be studied, genetic techniques used" to
identify and study gene products that are involved.

R8 photoreceptor cells are the first cells to differentiate in the retina.
The pattern of R8 photoreceptor cells is determined by a process involving
lateral inhibition. Determination of cells in other parts of the
Drosophila nervous system appears to be similar and requires some of the
same genes. Lateral inhibition is also used to determine various cell
types in other organisms.

Two mutations known to affect the pattern of R8 photoreceptor cells are
scabrous and Notch. scabrous encodes a putative secreted protein. Notch
encodes a transmembrane protein. Notch is the Drosophila homologue of
TAN-1 , a human proto-oncogene. scabrous and Notch also regulate cell
determination in other parts of the Drosophila nervous system.

To study cell-cell interactions in R8 photoreceptor determination, further
important genes will be identified using a novel genetic screen based on
properties of scabrous and Notch mutations. The roles of previously known
genes will be investigated using scabrous expression as a sensitive assay
for determination in their mutants. To test if Notch or other proteins is
a receptor for scabrous, the nature of the scabrous protein products and
Notch scabrous binding will be investigated biochemically.
Effective start/end date8/1/923/31/19


  • Genetics
  • Ophthalmology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Biotechnology


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