Extension of principles discovered in Drosophila to vertebrates
The ultimate goal of this research is to understand general principles governing organ
morphogenesis and how the impairment of these functions contributes to human disease. The
unrivaled genetic manipulability of Drosophila makes it a premier system for gene discovery
and sophisticated dissection of molecular mechanisms. However, to understand the human
relevance of discoveries made in Drosophila requires translation to a vertebrate system.
Zebrafish are highly amenable to reverse genetics and live imaging, making them the ideal
vertebrate complement to forward genetic studies of morphogenesis in flies. As the lab
matures, we will use reverse genetics in zebrafish as a gateway to investigate the vertebrate
functions of the morphogenetic regulators we identify in Drosophila. Novel insights
from the zebrafish work can then feed back into the fly research, achieving a highly synergistic
approach to the study of epithelial morphogenesis and basement membrane dynamics.