I'm a developmental biologist with a background in planarian regeneration who is studying epithelial cells in Jessica Feldman's lab as a Damon Runyon Fellow supported by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. I'm interested in understanding better how different kinds of epithelial cells, like the cells that line your gut and the cells that make up your skin, are able to correctly connect to one another and form fully continuous organs.
Jessica Feldman, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Argentine ant extract induces an osm-9 dependent chemotaxis response in C. elegans.
Many ant species are equipped with chemical defenses, although how these compounds impact nervous system function is unclear. Here, we examined the utility of Caenorhabditis elegans chemotaxis assays for investigating how ant chemical defense compounds are detected by heterospecific nervous systems. We found that C. elegans respond to extracts from the invasive Argentine Ant ( Linepithema humile ) and the osm-9 ion channel is required for this response. Divergent strains varied in their response to L. humile extracts, suggesting genetic variation underlying chemotactic responses. These experiments were conducted by an undergraduate laboratory course, highlighting how C. elegans chemotaxis assays in a classroom setting can provide genuine research experiences and reveal new insights into interspecies interactions.
View details for DOI 10.17912/micropub.biology.000745
View details for PubMedID 37008729
Separable mechanisms drive local and global polarity establishment in the C. elegans intestinal epithelium.
Development (Cambridge, England)
Apico-basolateral polarization is essential for epithelial cells to function as selective barriers and transporters, and to provide mechanical resiliency to organs. Epithelial polarity is established locally, within individual cells to establish distinct apical, junctional, and basolateral domains, and globally, within a tissue where cells coordinately orient their apico-basolateral axes. Using live imaging of endogenously tagged proteins and tissue specific protein depletion in the C. elegans embryonic intestine, we found that local and global polarity establishment are temporally and genetically separable. Local polarity is initiated prior to global polarity and is robust to perturbation. PAR-3 is required for global polarization across the intestine but is not required for establishment of local polarity as small groups of cells are able to establish polarized domains in PAR-3 depleted intestines in an HMR-1/E-cadherin dependent manner. Despite the role of PAR-3 in localizing PKC-3 to the apical surface, we additionally find that PAR-3 and PKC-3/aPKC have distinct roles in the establishment and maintenance of local and global polarity. Together, our results indicate that different mechanisms are required for local and global polarity establishment in vivo.
View details for DOI 10.1242/dev.200325
View details for PubMedID 36264257
Won't You be My Neighbor: How Epithelial Cells Connect Together to Build Global Tissue Polarity.
Frontiers in cell and developmental biology
2022; 10: 887107
Epithelial tissues form continuous barriers to protect against external environments. Within these tissues, epithelial cells build environment-facing apical membranes, junction complexes that anchor neighbors together, and basolateral surfaces that face other cells. Critically, to form a continuous apical barrier, neighboring epithelial cells must align their apico-basolateral axes to create global polarity along the entire tissue. Here, we will review mechanisms of global tissue-level polarity establishment, with a focus on how neighboring epithelial cells of different origins align their apical surfaces. Epithelial cells with different developmental origins and/or that polarize at different times and places must align their respective apico-basolateral axes. Connecting different epithelial tissues into continuous sheets or tubes, termed epithelial fusion, has been most extensively studied in cases where neighboring cells initially dock at an apical-to-apical interface. However, epithelial cells can also meet basal-to-basal, posing several challenges for apical continuity. Pre-existing basement membrane between the tissues must be remodeled and/or removed, the cells involved in docking are specialized, and new cell-cell adhesions are formed. Each of these challenges can involve changes to apico-basolateral polarity of epithelial cells. This minireview highlights several in vivo examples of basal docking and how apico-basolateral polarity changes during epithelial fusion. Understanding the specific molecular mechanisms of basal docking is an area ripe for further exploration that will shed light on complex morphogenetic events that sculpt developing organisms and on the cellular mechanisms that can go awry during diseases involving the formation of cysts, fistulas, atresias, and metastases.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fcell.2022.887107
View details for PubMedID 35800889
Proximity labeling reveals non-centrosomal microtubule-organizing center components required for microtubule growth and localization.
Current biology : CB
Microtubules are polarized intracellular polymers that play key roles in the cell, including in transport, polarity, and cell division. Across eukaryotic cell types, microtubules adopt diverse intracellular organization to accommodate these distinct functions coordinated by specific cellular sites called microtubule-organizing centers (MTOCs). Over 50 years of research on MTOC biology has focused mainly on the centrosome; however, most differentiated cells employ non-centrosomal MTOCs (ncMTOCs) to organize their microtubules into diverse arrays, which are critical to cell function. To identify essential ncMTOC components, we developed the biotin ligase-based, proximity-labeling approach TurboID for use in C.elegans. We identified proteins proximal to the microtubule minus end protein PTRN-1/Patronin at the apical ncMTOC of intestinal epithelial cells, focusing on two conserved proteins: spectraplakin protein VAB-10B/MACF1 and WDR-62, a protein we identify as homologous to vertebrate primary microcephaly disease protein WDR62. VAB-10B and WDR-62 do not associate with the centrosome and instead specifically regulate non-centrosomal microtubules and the apical targeting of microtubule minus-end proteins. Depletion of VAB-10B resulted in microtubule mislocalization and delayed localization of a microtubule nucleation complex ɣ-tubulin ring complex (gamma-TuRC), while loss of WDR-62 decreased the number of dynamic microtubules and abolished gamma-TuRC localization. This regulation occurs downstream of cell polarity and in conjunction with actin. As this is the first report for non-centrosomal roles of WDR62 family proteins, we expand the basic cell biological roles of this important disease protein. Our studies identify essential ncMTOC components and suggest a division of labor where microtubule growth and localization are distinctly regulated.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2021.06.021
View details for PubMedID 34242576