Molecular Genetics of Developmental Timing

Principle investigators:
Ryusuke Niwa, Ph. D. (Associate professor)
Yuko Shimada-Niwa, Ph. D. (Assistant professor)

Temporal coordination of cell proliferation and differentiation is essential for correct morphogenesis in multi-cellular organisms. Although a large number of studies have identified the genes that play important regulatory roles in spatial pattern formation, much less is known about the temporal patterning of development. My laboratory aims to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of developmental timing. We have taken molecular genetics approaches using mainly the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Currently we are especially interested in the pathways of biosynthesis of steroid hormones (ecdysteroids and dafachronic acids) for the control of molting, metamorphosis, diapause, the circadian clock, and longevity. We are also studying the juvenile-to-adult switch regulated by evolutionarily conserved microRNAs, transcription factors, and epigenetic regulators.

Developmental progression and the change of steroid hormone titer in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Developmental stages of insects, as well as nematodes, are separated by clear developmental transitions, such as molting and metamorphosis. This feature makes these animals the nice models for studying developmental timing. In insects, a temporal fluctuation of steroid hormone (ecdysteroid) is required for the proper developmental transition.

Contact: ryusuke-niwa-delete-@umin.ac.jp (please delete "-delete".)