The Role of GEI-4 and Intermediate Filaments in C. elegans Vulva Morphogenesis

Organogenesis is the process of organ formation in animals and is a complex process that requires many different coordinating pathways and events. How organs form and maintain a functioning three-dimensional morphology is still relatively unclear. One model used for studying organogenesis is the vulva (egg-laying path) of Caernorhabditis elegans. The C. elegans vulva is made up of only seven toroid cells and easily visualized. The underlying organogenesis pathways of the vulva are conserved and have been studied in detail. One particular protein, GEI-4, is involved in vulva organogenesis. While the function of GEI-4 is yet unknown, it is known that GEI-4 contains protein-binding domains and has a putative intermediate filament binding capacity. Intermediate filaments are non-polar cytoskeleton elements that are involved in providing structure to cells. The role of IFs in vulva morphogenesis has yet to be defined. Using RNAi, I show that knocking down expression of gei-4 after embryogenesis results in a connection of gonad (Cog) phenotype and asymmetry of the vulva structure. I also used RNAi to knock down expression of intermediate filament proteins to simulate a lack of structure in the IF network. I found that IFA-2 is heavily involved in ensuring both vulva morphology and larval viability. Both IFA-1 and IFA-3 are also involved in vulva morphogenesis. Both ifa-1 and ifa-3 knock down animals display Cog defects and vulva asymmetry, similar to gei-4 knock down animals. IFA-4 appears not to be involved in vulva morphogenesis, as ifa-4 knock-out mutants do not contain any mutant phenotypes with respect to vulva morphogenesis. Overall, my experiments show that GEI-4, IFA-1, IFA-2, and IFA-3 are important for vulva morphogenesis. GEI-4, IFA-1, and IFA-3 share similar mutant phenotypes, indicating they may be involved in the same morphogenesis pathway.



Work Title The Role of GEI-4 and Intermediate Filaments in C. elegans Vulva Morphogenesis
Penn State
  1. Michael Clupper
  1. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  2. C.elegans
  3. organogenesis
  4. GEI-4
License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
Work Type Thesis
  1. Wendy Hanna-Rose - research mentor
  2. Melissa Rolls - thesis reader
  1. Eberly College of Science
  2. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Publication Date Spring 2016
  1. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  1. English
Deposited June 22, 2016




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