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.