Sex Determination and Differentiation in Drosophila
One research interest of the lab is the molecular genetics of sex determination and somatic sexual differentiation in Drosophila melanogaster. In particular, we are interested in the function of the doublesex gene, which acts as a switch gene regulating both male and female development. Both molecular and genetic approaches are being used to examine the mechanisms by which the male and female specific products of the doublesex gene act to control the expression of target genes that are involved in sex-specific differentiation. A second project in the lab involves the mus308 gene of Drosophila. The activity of this gene is essential specifically for repairing the damage caused by mutagens that result in inter-strand crosslinks in DNA. We are characterizing the structure and function of the Drosophila gene, as well as using the Drosophila gene as a probe to isolate possible homologues from the human genome. The latter is of interest because Fanconi anemia, a fatal human disease, also involves a specific defect in the repair of double-strand crosslinks.