Project: Research project

Project Details


This research addresses the question of how the genes of a
multicellular organism specify the development and final form of
the organism. This question is addressed by focusing on the
genetic basis of the development of a specific, well-defined,
dispensible structure in the soil roundworm Caenorhabditis
elegans. The structure that will be studied in the copulatory
organ of the adult male tail. This structure comprises 164 male-
specific cells that arise by post-embryonic divisions of 12
precursor cells. Genes will be identified that determine both the
production of the male tail-specific cells and the coordinated
differentiation of those cells into the final adult structure. Genes will be identified by isolating mutants with abnormal male
tails (mab mutants). Mutant isolation will be accomplished by
screening mutagenized cultures with the dissecting microscope.
Mutations will be placed into complementation groups and mapped
with respect to known genes. Mutant phenotypes will be analyzed
in detail with the compound microscope. Mutations are especially
sought that affect a particular set of easily-observed sublineages
within the tail. These sublineages are responsible for producing
repetitive structures called rays. Electron microscopic,
immunocytochemical, and laser ablation techniques will be used
to determine whether another prominent structure, the fan, is
also a product of these sublineages. Mutations that affect the fan
and rays will be analyzed at the level of cell lineage. The aim is
to identify genes that specify cell fates in the ray sublineages. Basic studies of normal development in accessible model systems,
such as those described here, will aid in the understanding of
disrupted processes in developmental and neoplastic diseases.
Effective start/end date12/31/897/31/06


  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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