Andrew Droste

Year: Junior

Major(s):  Biology

Mentor: Mierisch, Jennifer

Department: Biology

Project Title: Understanding Ribbon in Gonad Formation

Project Abstract: In order to form functional tissues, multiple cell types have to be specified, migrate and interact. If this fails, development fails and disease may occur. The gonad is a great model of different cell types coming together. In humans, somatic cells and developing sperm, which are germ cells, interact in the male, while the somatic cells and developing germ cell interact in females. In flies, somatic cells and germ cells also interact. The formation of the gonads in the fruit fly embryo is a complex process involving numerous cellular migratory steps and cell-cell interactions. The mechanisms guiding germ cells and somatic cells to cluster are poorly understood. The germ cells are located at the posterior end of the embryo and migrate through the gut to reach the somatic gonad precursor cells, located in the mesoderm. On each side of the embryo there are three clusters of somatic cells. As the germ cells come in contact with the somatic cells the clusters fuse to form a tissue, mixed with the germ and somatic cells. In order to identify which genes are required for gonad formation, a number of genetic screens have been conducted. In these screens, Ribbon was identified as a gene required for cluster fusion. I would like to characterize the defects in Ribbon mutants and find out where Ribbon is required for fusion to happen. My goal is to better understand the process of cluster fusion in the gonad, revealing how Ribbon may be functioning in other tissues during development.