Geraldine C. Seydoux
Board Member: 2011-2016
Cell Determination in C. elegans
We are interested in understanding how cells acquire different fates during development. In particular, we are focusing on the mechanisms that distinguish between soma and germline in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In C. elegans, distinct somatic and germ lineages are made during the first embryonic cleavages, allowing this process to be analyzed in a simple embryo containing just a few cells. By developing an in situ hybridization protocol suitable for C. elegans, we have identified several differences in RNA content between somatic and germline cells in early embryos. These asymmetries suggest the existence of two mechanisms that specify germline fate: 1) repression of gene expression in embryonic germ cells, and 2) inheritance of the germline-specific P granules and associated mRNAs. We are currently using a combination of genetic and molecular approaches to characterize the molecules involved in these two mechanisms.