Characterization of the Gal4/UAS gene expression system for analysis of Drosophila Testis Development

Hello everyone!

My name is Marc Breidenbaugh and I am a rising junior biology major and finance minor at the college.  This summer I will be working in Professor Matthew Wawersik’s lab.  Our lab studies the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a means of learning about organogenesis and stem cell niche formation, as well as sex determination.  My project will be a continuation of a project that I began working on last summer and continued to work on this past year.  The goal of the project is to characterize the Gal4/UAS gene expression system for use in analysis of the genes involved in embryo and larval development of the gonad.

My work will involve mating specific fly lines together to produce embryos which I can collect and fix at certain times in development.  I will then be able to analyze the embryos under a confocal microscope after staining the embryos with specific primary and secondary antibodies and mounting them on slides. In addition to working on this project during the year, I have been working on two other projects which are coming closer to being done.  It will be nice to be able to focus almost entirely on this project during the summer and hopefully come close to finishing it.  It was hard during the school year to work on both this project and the other projects at the same time.  Also, I much more proficient at the lab procedures and techniques used in our lab since I joined last year in the spring, so hopefully this summer’s research will be more productive.  Should be an exciting summer!


Here is my abstract for a more thorough description of the project:

Stem cells are critical for the maintenance and generation of healthy tissues.  However, our understanding of how stem cells develop during organ formation is limited.  The testis of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is among the most accessible and thoroughly characterized systems for studying stem cell behavior.  Germline stem cells (GSCs) and somatic cyst stem cells (CySCs) located in a stem cell niche in the testis are involved in producing functional sperm for production of future generations.  Hardly any research has looked into how these stem cell populations are first established during testis formaton in embryonic and larval development.  My project focuses on characterizing a powerful tool, the Gal4/UAS gene expression system, to analyze the role of specific genes during testis formaton.  This new “toolbox” will enable me, and other scientists, to determine the molecular mechanisms required for stem cell niche formation in Drosophila which may eventually lead to production of better methods for stem cell therapies and tissue regeneration.