Genetic Analysis of Morphogenesis in a Nematode

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This research concerns how the
differentiated cells of the body are produced during animal development. Each
differentiated cell expresses a characteristic set of genes as a result of a
cell fate specification process that takes place during embryonic and
postembryonic development. Precisely regulated activation of genes encoding
cell fate determining transcription factors is critical to the orderly cell
fate specification process. The aim of this research is to understand how
transcriptional activation of one such cell fate determining transcription
factor gene is specified to occur in a particular cell and at a particular time
during development. The gene to be studied is egl-5, a member of the Hox gene
family of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a model organism for
developmental studies. egl-5 determines cell fates in a postembryonic cell
lineage that gives rise to sensory structures of the adult male tail. The
transcription factors that activate a cell-specific cis-regulatory element from
the egl-5 promoter will be identified. One key activator is another Hox protein
MAB-5, which may interact directly with the cis-regulatory element; thus, this
research serves as a model to understand a lox gene cascade. MAB-5 activity is
regulated by additional factors, which will be identified. As is typical for
Hox genes, egl-5 is activated by a combination of both positive and negative
pathways. A factor or factors that bind to a negative regulatory site within
the cis-regulatory element will be identified and characterized. Genes acting
in a global Hox gene regulatory pathway will be isolated and the functions of
their products analyzed. Further experiments will determine how the activities
of transcriptional activators and repressors of the cis-regulatory element are
controlled by developmental timing genes. This research will contribute to
understanding a fundamental aspect of animal development, and thus help towards
progress in overcoming diseases that arise as a result of developmental
Effective start/end date2/1/907/31/06


  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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