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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences
Medical School
Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development

PI: David I. Greenstein

Control of Oocyte Meiotic Maturation in Caenorhabditis elegans

The objective of this group’s research is to define the mechanisms by which intercellular signaling coordinates meiosis and fertilization in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In sexually reproducing animals, oocytes arrest at diplotene or diakinesis and resume meiosis (meiotic maturation) in response to hormones. Chromosome segregation errors in female meiosis I are the leading cause of human birth defects, and age-related changes in the hormonal environment of the ovary are a suggested cause. Previous work by this group established C. elegans as a genetic paradigm for studying hormonal control of meiotic maturation. C. elegans sperm export the major sperm protein (MSP) hormore to trigger meiotic maturation. A major advance during the past year was finding that Gasadenylate cyclase signaling in the follicle-like sheath cells is required for all known MSP-dependent meiotic maturation responses in the germline. This research has led to a model for the somatic control of meiotic maturation in which the sheath cells received the MSP signal and communicate its presence to the oocyte. This basic research in a genetic model system will generate fundamental knowledge important for understanding human reproduction and also signaling by evolutionarily conserved MSP-related ligands. The researchers use MSI resources to handle and analyze next-generation DNA sequencing data and for genomic analyses.

Group Members

Alexander Boyanov, Columbia University, New York, New York
Caroline Spike, Research Associate