Jennifer Aleman

I have officially joined Dr. Nayak’s lab and couldn’t be more excited! The Nayak lab uses C. elegans as a model organism, specifically to analyze germ line development in the nematode genetically and molecularly. Using C. elegans as a model organism is particularly useful because its’ genome is completely sequenced, consisting of 5 chromosomes and 1 sex chromosome. Hermaphrodites can thus self fertilize because they produce sperm and oocytes while males have one sex chromosome, are sperm producing and have to mate with hermaphrodites. We are interested in an RNA binding protein called GLD-1 (defective in Germ Line Development). GLD-1 is expressed in the germ line of hermaphrodites and affects various processes like oocyte development and cell proliferation. The correct expression pattern of GLD-1 is essential for normal germ line development. Thus, we are interested in genes responsible for maintaining the expression pattern of GLD-1. From a genetics screen conducted over the last two years, we have has found 4-8 mutations that are likely candidates for regulating GLD-1 expression. The goal of my project is to confirm the phenotype of the 4-8 mutations, find the best one, map the gene, and ultimately clone it. Essentially, over the next 1-2 semesters, I will be verifying that the expression pattern has indeed changed in the 4-8 mutations previously found. I will be verifying that the phenotypes described are real and that they match up with the phenotypes that were originally observed. This represents the first step in the long-term mapping and cloning the genes of interest. I’m excited about actually having a long term project. I’m looking forward to broadening my genetics and worm knowledge over the next three years.

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