Bob Goldstein (PI)
My own recent projects:
My own recent projects:
Development of tardigrades (water bears) as a new model system
I began studying tardigrade development as a side project soon after setting up my lab at UNC in 1999. My initial goal was to explore whether tardigrades could be a useful model for studying the evolution of development. This goal was sparked by the discovery in the late 1990's that C. elegans and Drosophila are much more closely related to each other than previously expected–both being members of the Ecdysozoa. We postulated that phyla closely related to these two models could become valuable evo-devo models, if organisms with a set of useful characteristics for study in the lab could be found. Our current work on tardigrades, led by postdoc Jenny Tenlen, focuses on obtaining and analyzing a genome sequence and developing methods for RNAi to facilitate future evo-devo studies. I'm also studying the mechanisms and consequences of conditional phototaxis, which we discovered fortuitously in the course of isolating animals for the genome sequencing project. Our long term goal is to use these animals to contribute to understanding how animal morphology evolves by evolutionary alterations to developmental mechanisms, and how animals and biological molecules can survive some extreme conditions. Our work is summarized on our tardigrades web site.
Polarization of a single cell by a cell presenting a Wnt signal
Wnt signaling plays important roles in cell polarization in diverse organisms, and loss of cell polarity is an early event in tumorigenesis caused by mutations in Wnt pathway genes. Despite this, fundamental questions remain about the precise roles of Wnt proteins in cell polarization. For example, it has been unclear whether the asymmetric position of a Wnt signal, presented to one side of a responding cell, is essential to establishing a cell's polarity. Attempts to test this by ubiquitous expression of Wnt genes have suggested that Wnt signals might act only as permissive factors in cell polarization. I tested this by directly manipulating cells to place Wnt-presenting cells lacking another key signal in a specific position in a cell. The results suggested that Wnt proteins can indeed function as positional cues in establishing cell polarity.
Some other projects
Magazine writing about science for non-scientists: