Murray State University

Poster Title

Genetic and Biochemical Analyses of Germ Cell Formation and Nuclear Division in Early Drosophila Embryos

Institution

Murray State University

Abstract

Many genes in the fruit fly Drosophila show striking similarity to human genes. It is thus likely that understanding the cellular mechanisms in Drosophila will help to understand cellular processes in humans and may provide critical insight into the biological cause of human diseases. Our study focuses on the mechanisms of germ cell formation. In most organisms, germ cells are set aside from somatic cells early during development. Eventually primordial germ cells differentiate, form gonads, and become egg and sperm and thereby produce the next generation. Therefore, germ cells are the stem cells that give rise to a whole organism. To search for new genes directly involved in germ cell formation, we conducted a large mutant screen of the second chromosome's right arm. As a result, we identified two alleles of a new gene involved in germline development. In addition, we isolated five alleles of another gene and showed that it acts in germ cell formation by properly distributing germ cell nuclei during their division and migration in early Drosophila embryos. Characterization of these new genes is underway and will be reported. Finally, we are in process of identifying metabolic energy-producing pathways that are mainly used for formation of germ cells. Understanding the mechanisms governing germ cell specification in Drosophila should contribute to our understanding of germline development in humans and may explain the origin of human germline disorders, namely germline cancers and infertility.

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Genetic and Biochemical Analyses of Germ Cell Formation and Nuclear Division in Early Drosophila Embryos

Many genes in the fruit fly Drosophila show striking similarity to human genes. It is thus likely that understanding the cellular mechanisms in Drosophila will help to understand cellular processes in humans and may provide critical insight into the biological cause of human diseases. Our study focuses on the mechanisms of germ cell formation. In most organisms, germ cells are set aside from somatic cells early during development. Eventually primordial germ cells differentiate, form gonads, and become egg and sperm and thereby produce the next generation. Therefore, germ cells are the stem cells that give rise to a whole organism. To search for new genes directly involved in germ cell formation, we conducted a large mutant screen of the second chromosome's right arm. As a result, we identified two alleles of a new gene involved in germline development. In addition, we isolated five alleles of another gene and showed that it acts in germ cell formation by properly distributing germ cell nuclei during their division and migration in early Drosophila embryos. Characterization of these new genes is underway and will be reported. Finally, we are in process of identifying metabolic energy-producing pathways that are mainly used for formation of germ cells. Understanding the mechanisms governing germ cell specification in Drosophila should contribute to our understanding of germline development in humans and may explain the origin of human germline disorders, namely germline cancers and infertility.