Summary of Results and Future Plans

Hello there,

It seems summer has come to an end, and a summary of my research is in order.

It was a very fast two months of research!  I certainly got a lot of work done in the lab, but I will definitely need more time to complete the entirety of the projects I’m working on.  It was definitely enjoyable working in the lab with three other lab mates and Dr. Wawersik.  After working in the lab the last two summers, I still find the research exciting as the information learned from the research in Dr. Wawersik lab on the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster,  is important for understanding how stem cells function.  Perhaps the research will one day help scientists develop stem cell therapy methods and understand cancer development.

The bulk of my time spent in the lab dealt with characterizing different Gal4/UAS gene expression drivers.  These drivers are used by our lab and other scientists to artificially overexpress a gene of interest in specific cells at specific times.  We use them to study the function of various genes during embryonic and larval development of the fruit fly gonad (testis in males, ovary in females).  One way to determine the function of the gene is too take it away or overexpress it and see what happens the gonad.  If we see that it has an altered phenotype, it is likely that that gene is involved in preventing that from happening.

There are a total of 11 different Gal4/UAS gene expression drivers that we hope to characterize.  These drivers have not been well characterized in the embryonic gonad.  They have mostly been studied in the adult fruit fly gonad.  We finished characterizing two of them last year.  This summer I finished characterizing one of them, upd-gal4, and came very close to characterizing tj-gal4 and nanos-gal4(maternal).

When I come back to school, I have a TON of slides to analyze.  This summer I completed much of the work for the other drivers besides the last step of analyzing them under our confocal microscope.  Before having a slide ready to analyze under the microscope I have to collect virgin females, set up a cage between those virgin females and males, collect their progeny (embryos and larvae), arrest their progeny at specific stages of development, immunostain those embryos/larvae to allow us to visualize certain proteins, and then mount them on a slide for analysis under the confocal microscope.

Besides working on the Gal4/UAS project, I also worked on a project that I have been involved in for the last year that deals with understanding a gene important in sex determination in fruit flies.  That project should be completed before next semester ends.

Finally, I started a new project that I am developing myself.  The Gal4/UAS characterization project was originally started by another lab member who has now graduated.  My project deals with studying the gene zfh-1 during embryonic development.  I have almost finished analyzing my first experiment for that project.

During my first month back at school I hope to finish analyzing my slides for the zfh-1 project and finish characterizing the tj-gal4 driver and the nanos-gal4(maternal) driver.

Lastly, even though I may not be specifically studying stem cell development in fruit fly gonads in my future career, the lessons I have learned from working in Dr. Wawersik’s lab will certainly be invaluable. I hope to become a doctor who is also involved in research.  Understanding how scientists go about the scientific method, developing questions and testing hypotheses, is critical for whatever the future has in store for me.

Well I guess this is goodbye for now, so have a great rest of the summer whoever is reading this!

Marc