The Role of the GLH Proteins in C. elegans P Granules

Grant Details


Each of us was once a single cell no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence; it is incredible that we have developed into adults with all the correct tissues and organs. To understand the development of the germline, an essential tissue for the continuity of the species, the Bennett laboratory studies P granules, germline-specific RNA and protein aggregates in the soil nematode (round worm) Caenorhabditis elegans. The Bennett group discovered GLH (germline RNA helicase) proteins are P granule components; recently they found GLH-1 interacts with Dicer (DCR-1) in C. elegans; this interaction was discovered both by genetics, with mutants missing either protein, and by biochemistry. Dicer is an enzyme that processes and activates microRNAs, small RNAs recently shown necessary for normal plant and animal development. This project consists of three Aims: to determine 1. how GLH-1 and DCR-1 are interdependent, 2. what RNAs the GLH/DCR complex binds and 3. how GLH-1/4 contribute to the identity of the C. elegans gonad, which can change from a single to a bifurcated tube when the glh-4 gene is missing, with glh-1 loss by RNA interference, or with loss of two microRNAs predicted to bind and regulate glh-1. Therefore, the laboratory will investigate this change in tissue morphology associated with GLH-1/GLH-4 loss. Success in these Aims may provide a molecular understanding of how the germline is specified and how tissues take form. This project will support the education of three MU PhD students; all three are women. It also funds a collaborative project with Central Michigan University, a primarily undergraduate institution. Dr. Bennett trains young scientists in her laboratory and throughout the US, including teaching C. elegans genetics to high school AP Biology students and organizing two-day Young Faculty Boot Camps that precede the Society for Developmental Biology national meetings.

Effective start/end date08/15/0807/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $434,800.00


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