Germline Stem Cell Development in Drosophila Melanogaster

Hello, all!

My name is Emma Rudebusch and I’m finishing up my sophomore year here at The College.  I am so excited to have received the Charles Center Summer Scholarship and to have the opportunity to do research over the summer in Professor Wawersik’s lab.

My project will be examining the role of the bone morphogenetic (BMP) signaling pathway in the regulation of the establishment of germline stem cells (GSCs) in Drosophila melanogaster, also known as fruit flies.  We are using Drosophila as a model system because markers indentifying germ cells and other cell types in the surrounding environment have already been developed.  The development of GSCs is highly conserved from invertebrates to vertebrates, so it is likely that the information learned from this research will be applicable to humans.  Learning more about the mechanisms behind the establishment of these populations could be useful for the development of stem cell treatments or drug therapies.

It is currently known that the BMP pathway plays a role in the maintenance of GSC populations.  However, much less is known about the mechanisms behind the initial establishment of the GSC populations.  The Wawersik lab has already shown that the GSCs are first established from undifferentiated primordial germ cells (PGCs) around 23 hours after egg laying.  BMP signaling is present in GSCs at this time and is also activated in a subset of the PGCs before GSC establishment. Therefore, our hypothesis is that BMP signaling is required for GSC establishment.

Please feel free to comment with any questions/concerns/comments/etc!