How Wnts polarize cells
Many cell divisions that occur during development and homeostasis require communication between neighboring cells to direct spindle orientation. Defects in division orientation may lead to developmental abnormalities and failures in stem cell maintenance, and have been hypothesized to be an initiating event in some cancers. At the four-cell stage in the C. elegans embryo, Wnt and Src signals from one cell act in parallel to orient the mitotic spindle of a responding cell. Previous work has indicated that the position of the Wnt signal is relevant for orienting mitotic spindle, but that the initial position of the Src signal does not matter. However, how a cell integrates positional and non-positional signals to align the mitotic spindle remains poorly understood. To address this question, we are using a unique and relatively simple system in which cells from embryos of different genetic backgrounds can be isolated and recombined. Our goal is to determine the localization and activation state of molecules downstream of Wnt and Src in the responding cell. We are analyzing the localization of known players and candidate molecules when the Wnt and Src pathway signals are presented from discrete locations on a single responding cell using genetically defined cells and purified Wnt protein. These experiments may allow us to determine the positional contribution of members of each pathway and their potential roles in the recruitment and activation of the cell’s mitotic machinery.
Publications from Jenny's PhD so far:
Honors and awards during Jenny's PhD work: