Department of Biology
315 Penn St.
Camden, NJ 08102
Signaling dynamics, patterning and morphogenesis
The main interest of our laboratory is to elucidate mechanisms of cell fate determination by tissue patterning that is regulated by morphogen gradients. We focus on the conserved Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) pathway and use fruit fly oogenesis as a model system. Specifically, we use Drosophila egg formation to monitor the dynamics of BMP signaling in developing egg chambers. The egg chamber is the precursor of the mature egg, and the follicle cells (FCs) surrounding the developing oocyte are responsible for eggshell formation. Eggshell imprints reflect earlier patterning events in the FCs and provide an excellent output for the interpretation of changes in patterning caused by genetic perturbations. Mechanisms found in our experimental work will be used to develop models, accommodating multiple components of signaling networks, to predict which component can account for the evolution of eggshell morphological traits. Current projects include the characterization of multiple signaling components controlling the dynamics of BMP signaling, and the determination whether the divergence of signaling components can account for the diversity of eggshell morphologies between different fly species.