Honors College | Session 5

Title

Identifying Novel Genetic Regulators of Temporal Development in Caenorhabditis elegans

Presenter Information

Parker UpchurchFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

biology

Minor

chemistry

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Chris Trzepacz

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Caenorhabditis elegans, a model nematode roundworm, has an invariant program of embryonic development. Each totipotent zygote develops into larvae of precisely 558 cells at the time of hatching. While there has been extensive research on the genetic control of the birth, determination, differentiation, and apoptosis of these 558 embryonic cells, surprisingly little is known regarding the genetic control of embryonic developmental timing. This developmental program is affected by temperature – embryogenesis takes 16 hours at 16°C, 14 hours at 20°C, and 10 at 25°C – but no gene that has a similar temporal affect has been identified.

We have examined the embryogenesis of over 5000 normal N2 embryos to determine the normal embryonic timing curve of a wild type C. elegans population. This information is now being utilized in a genetic screen to identify and isolate novel alleles of genes that affect embryogenesis timing. A population of worms has been mutagenized with ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) and their young embryos have been isolated, plated, and observed. Any embryo that hatched earlier or later than three standard deviations from the expected distribution of wild-type embryogenesis was selected as a candidate for further analysis and validation. We currently have more than ninety early candidates and more than seventy late candidates to evaluate. A fundamental genetic developmental program is conserved among all metazoans and, therefore, the results of our study may be directly applicable to study the developmental timing of humans and other animals.

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Identifying Novel Genetic Regulators of Temporal Development in Caenorhabditis elegans

Caenorhabditis elegans, a model nematode roundworm, has an invariant program of embryonic development. Each totipotent zygote develops into larvae of precisely 558 cells at the time of hatching. While there has been extensive research on the genetic control of the birth, determination, differentiation, and apoptosis of these 558 embryonic cells, surprisingly little is known regarding the genetic control of embryonic developmental timing. This developmental program is affected by temperature – embryogenesis takes 16 hours at 16°C, 14 hours at 20°C, and 10 at 25°C – but no gene that has a similar temporal affect has been identified.

We have examined the embryogenesis of over 5000 normal N2 embryos to determine the normal embryonic timing curve of a wild type C. elegans population. This information is now being utilized in a genetic screen to identify and isolate novel alleles of genes that affect embryogenesis timing. A population of worms has been mutagenized with ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) and their young embryos have been isolated, plated, and observed. Any embryo that hatched earlier or later than three standard deviations from the expected distribution of wild-type embryogenesis was selected as a candidate for further analysis and validation. We currently have more than ninety early candidates and more than seventy late candidates to evaluate. A fundamental genetic developmental program is conserved among all metazoans and, therefore, the results of our study may be directly applicable to study the developmental timing of humans and other animals.