Our lab uses the C. elegans embryo as a simple model to understand how cell interactions and movements shape the developing body plan. As in many organisms, cells in the early embryo polarize in response to cell-cell contacts. Polarity in early C. elegans cells provides a foundation for subsequent cytoskeletal asymmetries that direct the cell movements of gastrulation. Projects in the lab include:
- Understanding how cell contacts induce polarity in early embryonic cells. We have identified a signaling pathway that translates cell contact cues into cell polarity by regulating the spatial activity of RhoGTPases.
- Learning how gastrulation movements are triggered in specific cells. We have found that primordial germ cells utilize a unique hitchhiking mechanism, regulated by E-cadherin, which allows them to be pulled into the embryo during gastrulation.
- Uncovering how the various cell types of an organ assemble together. We have examined assembly of the primordial gonad as a simple model for organogenesis. The primordial gonad contains two germ cells and two somatic gonad cells, which undergo an elaborate assembly process that includes migration, stopping, pseudopod extension, and wrapping.
- Investigating how epithelial cells and tubes form during organogenesis. We have identified different roles for PAR-3 and PAR-6 in epithelial cell polarization and junction assembly, respectively, and have shown that PAR proteins cooperate with the vesicle tethering exocyst complex to regulate lumen formation in a single-celled tube.
Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology
PhD from University of Arizona
Nature cell biology. 2016 Dec; 18(12):1302-1310
Nature cell biology. 2016 Mar; 18(3):337-346
Development. 2015 Oct 15; 142(20):3571-3582
Nature cell biology. 2015 Jun; 17(6):726-735
Development. 2014 Dec; 141(23):4640-4647
Developmental biology (Orlando). 2014 Oct 01; 394(1):110-121
Journal of cell biology. 2014 Sep 29; 206(7):823-832
Developmental biology (Orlando). 2013 Jul 15; 379(2):139-151