Characterizing chromosome missegregation in spe-26 mutant Caenorhabditis elegans

Meiosis is a type of specialized cell division, in which sperm and egg cells are formed. It is important to study and understand meiosis because when it goes wrong, it can result in infertility and other problems with sex cells. A useful way to study meiosis is in Caenorhabditis elegans, a 1-millimeter long nematode worm with transparent skin, because sex cell division is easy to analyze with microscopy. In my project, I will be visualizing defects in meiotic chromosome segregation in mutant C. elegans worms, which has a broader application to human sperm development. Given that infertility affects up to ten-percent of couples worldwide, largely due to problems with male sperm formation, studying meiosis in a model organism is important for understanding why and how infertility occurs in humans.

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The Most Proximal Oocyte and Future Directions

This summer, we have performed a comparative analysis of oocyte maturation in the nematode species C. elegans and R. sp. SB347. These studies have allowed us to gain insights on how this process differs between the two species. Specifically, this summer, we studied what role the protein FBF plays in oocyte maturation. We observed different patterns of FBF antibody staining within the gonad (see my previous post) and in the most proximal oocytes of the related nematode, R. sp. SB347, confirming results from previous studies (Lin et al. unpublished studies).

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Using Antibodies in Nematodes

As mentioned in my last blog post, we are performing a comparative study of maturing oocytes in the nematode species R. sp. SB 347 and C. elegans. To do so, we use immunofluorescence and microscopy techniques to observe protein presence and location in the developing oocytes. Our primary method of immunofluorescent staining is using antibodies to tag certain molecules. In the immune system, antibodies are used to tag foreign molecules for destruction. For instance, when a virus attacks the immune system, certain antibodies will recognize the foreign threat and mark it for destruction by the rest of the immune system. To do this, antibodies recognize and bind to a specific binding site on a foreign molecule.

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The End? Mutant Receptors and Oncogenesis

It’s hard to believe my summer of research has come to an end. In my last blog post two weeks ago, I had just observed my first set of TRa1 transfected HeLa cells under fluorescence microscopy. Since then, I have continued to work with my two TR mutants, hcc-TRa1 and tc-TRa1, performing replicate experiments and testing for statistically significant differences in localization patterns.

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