Drosophila egg chamber development as a model for organ morphogenesis

During development, discrete organs and entire body plans emerge from the coordinate actions of individual cells. These complex morphogenetic events require dynamic regulation of cell shape, polarity, and adhesion across cell populations. Our lab seeks to understand how these diverse cellular behaviors are orchestrated to produce an organ's functional shape.
Changes in egg chamber morphology over time (images not drawn to scale)
To this end, we are using the Drosophila egg chamber as a highly tractable system to investigate the cellular control of organ morphogenesis. Egg chambers are multi-cellular structures within fly ovaries that consist of an inner germ cell cluster surrounded by an epithelial layer of follicle cells. This simple organ's function is to nurture and pattern the oocyte growing within, as each egg chamber will give rise to a single egg. Despite the fact that it is an adult structure, the egg chamber undergoes complex morphogenetic changes that rival those seen in embryos. We are currently investigating how the egg chamber is transformed from a sphere to an ellipsoid as it grows. As is detailed in the subsequent pages, we are particularly interested in the role that collective cell migration and basement membrane remodeling play in this process.