Graduate Student Sarah Smith on how alterations to signaling pathway activity generates newly evolved morphology

University of Pittsburgh Department of Biological Sciences Presents:

Friday Noon Seminar Series 2017-2018

Graduate Student: Sarah Smith

Rebeiz Lab

Signal to shape: how alterations to signaling pathway activity generates newly evolved morphology

The development of anatomical form is multifaceted, involving both the patterning of gene expression and the morphogenesis of tissues at the cellular level. However, our understanding of how these two processes are integrated remains unclear. Studies of rapidly evolving anatomical structures can contribute to the integration of these processes by providing examples of genetic alterations that can be connected to their naturally occurring cellular effects on morphogenesis.We examined the posterior lobe, a recently evolved appendage-like structure on the genitalia of members of the Drosophila melanogaster clade. During posterior lobe development, the ligand of the JAK/STAT pathway encoded by unpaired (upd) is expanded in the genitalia of species that develop this structure. We characterized the regulatory region upd and uncovered an enhancer that drives ancestral and novel patterns of upd expression in the genitalia. To investigate how this change contributed to the posterior lobe’s unique morphology, we characterized the process of its morphogenesis. We find that the lobe forms through elongation of cells along their apico-basal axis and have identified a gene that is highly patterned during posterior lobe development downstream of upd that may directly contribute to this elongation. This work highlights how the expansion of a signaling pathway became associated with a novel morphogenetic process.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A219B Langley Hall

12:00 PM Seminar


16 Feb 2018

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A219B Langley Hall