Decoding genetic circuits for developmental timing and stem cell fate
Real-time live-imaging and analysis of pulsatile microRNA transcription in the C. elegans hypodermis
The four larval stages of C. elegans are characterized by stage-specific patterns of cell division, cell differentiation, and cuticle formation that occur during intermolt periods. Classical forward genetic approaches have identified several highly conserved temporal selector genes that combinatorially program stage-specific patterns of cell fate specification during post-embryonic development. Transitions through successive stage-specific developmental cell fate programs are mediated by the accumulation of several microRNAs (miRNAs) that post-transcriptionally regulate the expression of their temporal selector gene targets.
Our team is interested in the mechanisms that determine miRNA transcriptional dosage and the strategy by which stem cells in the C. elegans hypodermis acquire their temporal identities based on the temporal gradients of miRNA target genes.